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Medical Answering Service – New Requirements And Laws

Date Added: March 08, 2010 12:57:40 PM
Author: Sue McCrossin
Category: Business & Economy

Physician's offices are beset by calls all day long, and after hours as well. The majority of these calls consist of appointment scheduling and changes, insurance inquiries, billing questions, lab reports and scheduling, and patient questions. Each call is important and some are critical to a patient's health. A missed call, an incorrect message, or message delivery to the wrong party could contribute to medical malpractice mistakes or non-compliance with HIPAA regulations. Many doctors' offices and clinics already make use of a medical answering service for either appointment scheduling or after hours call routing. However it may make better sense for the doctor's office to explore the option of using a virtual medical answering service hosted by a HIPAA compliant call center. There are several reasons for this suggestion: HIPAA compliancy Accuracy in message contents and message delivery Accurate phone numbers in messages No lost calls or calls which are hard to decipher Correct doctor on-call always reached A virtual medical answering service that is HIPAA compliant and follows all JACHO regulations will not only protect the patient's privacy, but it will ensure that the message is delivered only to the person it is meant for, and that the message is accurate because it has not been transcribed. Each message is encrypted and can only be accessed by physicians who have the correct password. The medical answering service will follow all necessary regulations so that the physician's office is compliant and messages are communicated without error. Since the patient provides the phone number, there is no room for error in message transcription, and the phone number is as accurate as the patient providing it. By using the option of having the physician's office receptionist be able to use the virtual medical answering service when things get busy in the office, the physician can ensure that calls will be answered on the first ring both during work hours and after hours. All messages are checked for spelling and verification, and all calls are answered in the physician's company name. The medical answering service will access a database once the call is answered, and all of the information for the physician's office is shown on the computer screen, telling the answering service each call should be handled, and what actions taken. This database takes any guess work out of which on-call doctor should be reached, ensuring that the correct doctor gets the correct message, whether during office hours or after hours. Sue McCrossin is internet consultant working for ACA on the subject of Medical Answering Service. She feels that health care companies should be aware of the new option of using inbound call centers for HIPPA compliancy.

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