HIPAA compliance for call centers is essential for these very entities that store, process and/or transmit Protected Health Information – simply known as PHI. With massive data breaches continuing to make front page news – and costly legal troubles for many businesses – the need for securing highly sensitive consumer data has never been greater. We live in a complex, digitally driven world, one that’s only going to become more challenging in regards to protecting patient data, especially for the growing number of call centers springing up throughout the world.
Therefore, in today’s world of growing compliance mandates, it’s important to take note of the following best practices regarding HIPAA compliance for call centers, courtesy of Flat Iron Technologies, LLC, one of North America’s leading provider of professional healthcare solutions:
Get to know HIPAA:
- HIPAA Security Rule 164.308 | Administrative Safeguards
- HIPAA Security Rule 164.310 | Physical Safeguards
- HIPAA Security Rule 164.312 | Technical Safeguards
- HIPAA Security Rule 164.314 | Organizational Requirements
- HIPAA Security Rule 164.316 | Policies and Procedures
The very best way for call centers to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule provisions of 164.308 to 164.316 is to develop comprehensive, in-depth, and well-written security policies and procedures, which means you’ll need to source very high-quality HIPAA security policy manual template. Simply visit hipaapoliciesandprocedures.com and download our industry leading toolkits today containing all the essential documentation needed for ensuring HIPAA compliance. The time and effort needed for developing HIPAA policy documentation can be staggering – don’t go it alone – turn to the experts at hipaapoliciesandprocedures.com as this is what we do every day for businesses throughout North America.
Assess Scope: One of the most important questions to ask yourself is “how is Protected Health Information (PHI) entering into our system and are we storing it in any capacity, such as wave files, databases, etc.”? Seems like quite a bit to take in – but in all honesty – you’ve got to clearly understand where PHI is, how it’s acquired, and what is being done with the information once you have it. Only then can you begin to truly assess your HIPAA compliance boundaries. So what’s the very best way to start – by getting all relevant personnel in a room and white boarding your entire business model – that’s where! Ask yourself these questions: 1. Where and how does PHI enter your organization’s systems and where is it being stored? 2. What controls are in place for ensuring the safety and security of PHI being stored? 3. Do we have in place proper best practices –such as a clean desk work policy – for helping ensure the safety of PHI? 4. Have there been any instance of possible breaches or “leakage” of PHI, and if so, what’s been done to correct it? These, and many more questions should surface as you truly start to examine HIPAA.
Conduct a HIPAA Readiness Assessment: It’s important to note that a HIPAA readiness assessment – a true scoping exercise performed by competent personnel – is highly recommended for any healthcare entity seeking to become HIPAA compliant, but is unsure where to start. After all, you’ll need to understand and assess certain scoping and business boundary issues, what internal controls need to be remediated, who will be responsible for coordinating such efforts, and much more. HIPAA compliance is not a walk in the park, not at all, it requires a true commitment for meeting the rigorous mandates put forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Understand the Importance of HIPAA Policies and Procedures: Every regulatory compliance mandate shares one unique common trait – the mandate for comprehensive policies and procedures – and HIPAA is no different. Both the Security Rule and Privacy Rule require enormous documentation, so much so that dedicating an expert to writing policies and procedures is often very common. While expert compliance writing services can cost thousands of dollars, the experts at hipaapoliciesandprocedures.com offer industry leading policy templates at a fraction of that cost.
Understand the Importance of Documentation: Information security policies and procedures – along with other healthcare specific documents – constitute a large part of compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Additionally, undertaking an annual risk assessment – while also performing formalized security awareness training – is also essential for HIPAA compliance. In fact, security awareness training should be high on everyone’s list – regardless if it’s a mandate or not – as having employees informed regarding critical security issues just makes sense.
Know Where the Dangers Lie: Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) can pose the greatest threat to the safety and security of Protected Health Information (PHI), and for a number of reasons. First and foremost, turnover for CSRs is very high – sometimes at a full 100% for many companies – which means these employees have little regard at times for implementing security best practices. Secondly, CSR positions can provide immense opportunities for fraud and collusion, thus making a clean desk policy – and other security controls – a must when working with PHI. Another big step in the right direction is making sure you conduct comprehensive background checks on all of your employees. With today’s online tools for background checks, it’s now quicker, cheaper, and easier than ever, so there’s no excuse for not doing it. You may not be able to stop employee turnover – it’s the nature of the call center business – but you can put in place good hiring practices for helping ensure the safety of organizational assets, particularly client healthcare data.
Compliance is not ONE and DONE: That’s right, the regulatory compliance mantra lives on well after one’s initial compliance mandates have been met with HIPAA. It means finding a true internal champion for HIPAA, somebody who will carry the torch for years to come in ensuring all practices are being followed and adhered to. And with proper documentation in place – such as our award-winning HIPAA toolkits – annual compliance becomes that much easier.
Follow these proven steps for ensuring you call center is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) today:
- Assess Scope and understand what HIPAA is.
- Hire a HIPAA expert and perform a readiness assessment.
- Remediate all findings as necessary, particularly all I.T. issues.
- Develop all necessary documentation for HIPAA compliance.
- Undertake security awareness training for all employees.
- Perform a risk assessment.
- Assess third-party providers regarding your controls.
- Engage in continuous monitoring for HIPAA compliance moving forward.
- Remember that HIPAA is a moving target.
Next Steps?: Contact the HIPAA experts today at Flat Iron Technologies, LLC, by calling 1-800-554-1829 and speaking to an expert in healthcare compliance. Additionally, visit hipaapoliciesandprocedures.com today to learn more about our industry leading HIPAA Security & Compliance Policy Toolkits (HSPCT), available for instant download for a wide-number of industries. Becoming HIPAA compliant for call centers begins by acquiring the very best documentation available anywhere, and that’s from Flat Iron Technologies, LLC.