Telephone answering systems are a huge part of any medical practice. They help keep things running smoothly and allow for easy communication between your practice and your patients. For a long time, everything was analog and messages were stored on tape. But now many of practices are going all digital with Voice over IP (VoIP) phones.
VoIP and HIPAA Rules
While VoIP systems make life easier, it also adds a wrinkle for your security measures to cover. Since recorded calls, electronic voicemail and transcription services are stored as digital files, any messages that contain patient information are considered electronic protected health information (ePHI) and must be closely guarded to remain HIPAA compliant.
A VoIP telephone system has two components: making/receiving phone calls and storing voicemails, and recorded calls. HIPAA regulations already cover phone calls regardless of whether they’re landline or digital, but since VoIP voicemails are stored on servers transcribed into text, they must be protected just like emails and other digital forms of communication are.
Digital records can be easy to access, so extra precautions must be taken to keep records safe. At DigiFone, we offer a HIPAA-compliant VoIP system with encrypted transcription and email delivery services. Messages containing ePHI must be accessed through a secure encryption service before its contents can be viewed. The end-to-end encryption keeps the patient’s ePHI confidential both in transmission and at rest, and it ensures the data is only available to authorized members of your practice.
In addition to encrypting stored data, VoIP systems must fulfill the following requirements:
- Authentication: Each phone must have a unique user ID.
- Call Logs: The VoIP system must be able to record all call data, including metadata and any administrative functions performed during the call.
- Business Associate Agreement (BAA): Your VoIP provider must sign a BAA that holds them accountable to any HIPAA violations on their end. See our recent post about HIPAA BAAs.
How VoIP Can Help You
The benefits of DigiFone VoIP systems don’t end at encryption services. DigiFone allows you to use a traditional analog phone, a digital VoIP phone, or your computer or smartphone to make and receive phone calls—all from the same phone number. And since VoIP works over your internet connection, you don’t need to pay for separate landline phone service. You can also connect remote offices and team members to the central system so it’s all run through the same phone number.
With over 30 years of IT and networking experience, the experts at DigiFone would be happy to help your transition to a better, safer and more efficient telephone system. To see how VoIP will work best for your business, or to schedule a free HIPAA assessment, contact us online or call us at 614-635-9676.