The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, is an important piece of American legislation for healthcare providers. It mandates the protection of patients’ personal health information, and providers who breach this protection can be subject to significant penalties, including fines and imprisonment. It is crucial to note that sensitive medical information doesn’t solely come in the form of hard copy documents and digital files, though. HIPAA also concerns phone calls, and if you use a VoIP system for business communication, you may have questions about compliance.
HIPAA Compliance Guidelines
VoIP must follow HIPAA guidelines because voice messages and recorded calls are stored as computer data. The term for this data is ePHI – “electronic personal health information.” Returning to the issue at hand, VoIP systems are fully capable of meeting HIPAA criteria. They simply must fulfill the following requirements.
- Authentication: Phones must be able to present a unique user ID.
- Encryption: Transport Layer Security (TLS), virtual private networks (VPN), and other encryption technologies must be used to protect data.
- Call Logs: A VoIP system must have the ability to record all call data, including metadata and administrative functions performed during calls.
- Business Associate Agreement: A cloud-based VoIP provider that deals with personal health information must enter into a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, which is essentially a contract that sets compliance obligations.
Is VoIP The Right Option?
Fitting VoIP into a HIPAA-compliant structure may seem daunting, but it presents benefits that can help in the long run. The versatility of certain VoIP systems allows remote access, meaning you don’t necessarily have to be confined to a crowded meeting room when it comes time for a conference call. Some systems also offer software that lets you check the availability of coworkers, which makes scheduling easier. You can even add video calling options, which enable the success of online patient portals.
VoIP systems that comply with HIPAA regulations are readily available. However, it’s important that you do your research before deciding that this technology is right for your office. Review HIPAA’s privacy and security rules, and be aware that 11 states add further regulations on top of the federally mandated policies. When you’re ready to implement VoIP, contact TC Tech Systems to see how we can improve your efficiency and productivity.