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Data Privacy in Call Centers: An In-Depth Look Into HIPAA - Executive Boutique - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog

Data Privacy in Call Centers: An In-Depth Look Into HIPAA

The health sector faces a bulk of work daily as the demand for quality healthcare continues to increase. Even as the world is slowly returning to a pre-pandemic state, their services are needed now more than ever. 

With that in mind, major industry partners and multiple other sectors look to business process outsourcing (BPO) services to manage this growing public interest.

Since the healthcare industry deals with highly confidential information, outsourced partners should always be aware of how they can comply with data protection regulations. This involves getting familiar with a national standard called Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA. 

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To guarantee that your call center is HIPAA-compliant, use the infographic below to learn about HIPAA protocols.

What is HIPAA?

Signed by the former U.S president Bill Clinton, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law established in 1996. The U.S. government set it in place to ensure that there would be a regulated national standard in how healthcare institutions in the country safeguard patient health information.

Unless the laws of the involved state are classified as more stringent than HIPAA, this act can override other legislations involving the safety of a patient’s medical information. Through this, medical facilities can’t disclose private information regarding your medical accounts without your prior knowledge or consent. 

In terms of its use, medical institutions can efficiently cut costs on healthcare by having a standardized electronic system that manages financial information and administrative transactions. Also, this allows workers to gain continuous health insurance coverage if they lose their job or source of income.

What is HIPAA Compliance?

The HIPAA provides a standardized ruling for sensitive patient data protection. All related industries dealing with protected health information (PHI) must comply with established rules and procedures. Covered entities specifically include:

  • Healthcare providers
  • Health plans
  • Healthcare clearinghouses
  • Business associates

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stresses the importance of HIPAA compliance as more healthcare facilities begin to adopt computerized operations. 

Physical and technical safeguards are required for all parties that will host sensitive patient data to help organizations follow these protocols. These can include audit reports, tracking logs, and limited facility access.

HIPAA Compliance Requirements Essential for Call Centers

Some requirements for healthcare facilities and business associates may differ since they can have varying uses for sensitive patient information. Because many health organizations are extending their operations to outsourcing partners, call centers must comply with these established standards.

If you’re looking to partner with one for your operations, here are a few factors you’ll need to keep in mind:

  • Privacy rule

The HIPAA privacy rule limits how related healthcare organizations can use and disclose PHI without the prior consent or knowledge of the corresponding patient. It also allows individuals to easily get a copy of their health records and gain the right to use and correct their information as needed.

  • Security rule

The HIPAA security rule compliance covers electronic PHI, thus mandating technical and physical safeguards. It would be best if you also protected physical devices to avoid the risks of theft and unauthorized access to healthcare information and other related records. Call centers must limit access and audit controls to designated workers. 

  • Business associate agreement

Business associates are any person or entity that performs functions and activities on behalf of the covered entity. Through this contract, outsourced call centers mustn’t disclose information beyond what’s permitted in the agreement. Additionally, they must report any data breaches or cyber fraud incidents as soon as it occurs.

Important Practices for a HIPAA-Compliant Call Center

Partnering with a HIPAA-certified call center can help ensure that your patients’ data and other sensitive information will remain safe and secure. To do this, you’ll need to establish proper protocols to guarantee your business will make no violations.

Below are a few major practices worth taking note of:

  • Enforce data encryption

Data entry encryption allows you to protect private data by enhancing the security of your networks. If an unauthorized person accesses your data, the encryption will prevent them from easily gaining valuable information from your system. 

  • Secure messaging solutions

In a call center, a dedicated team should regularly check apps, software, and servers for any vulnerabilities that may allow cybercriminals to sneak through daily operations. Customers should also be reminded to avoid connecting to unsecured networks that may increase their risk of cybersecurity issues and other online threats. 

  • Conduct regular HIPAA training and refreshers

While the HIPAA was established to provide a standardized approach to data security, changes to these protocols can still change over time. Using a call center vendor with updated training methods is best to keep your business HIPAA-compliant.

  • Limit access to patient data

Avoid allowing general workers full access to the database to ensure the security of your network. Limit these to higher-ups and assign dedicated accounts to easily track who goes in and out of your system.

  • Report data leaks and breaches immediately

Whether intentional or otherwise, data breaches can happen at any time. Because of this, your partner call center should always monitor any abnormalities and report them immediately to mitigate risks. 

  • Create detailed internal practices

An internal process lets you know what’s going on with your system and complies with regulations more efficiently. It also gives you better control over your operations, despite working with third-party vendors, as your operations will follow standard practices daily.

  • Safeguard PHI

Utmost care should always be observed when handling and transporting PHI to any medium. To avoid accidentally leaking any private data, ensure that it isn’t connected to any distribution systems, auto-forwarding marks, or portable devices within the call center.

Success and Security through HIPAA Compliance

The healthcare industry provides equal access to quality healthcare and social health protection. Now that the world is slowly moving towards a pre-pandemic state, the demand for healthcare services continues to grow. 

But without the proper protocols or strategies, data management in the healthcare sector can easily become hectic as factors like security breaches and data theft are added to the equation. 

To prevent data theft and efficiently control how PHI is used within operations, becoming HIPAA compliant is a must for both covered entities and business associates. It would help if you considered a HIPAA-certified call center partner like Executive Boutique Call Center to avoid legal complications and other conflicts. 

A HIPAA-compliant partner will help you build your credibility in the market and ensure progressive growth towards management and control over your network.

Get in touch with our team of experts today to learn more!

Source: https://ebcallcenter.com/outsourcing/data-privacy-in-call-centers-hipaa

Publish Date: August 18, 2022


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