Did you know that if your law firm outsources intake services that you and the company you outsource to must both be HIPAA compliant? HIPAA compliance for call centers that provide legal intake services is crucial to your law firm’s success. If you or your intake company are not HIPAA compliant, you both could face aggressive penalties.
At Legal Conversion Center, we are proud to be certified HIPAA compliant. All of our legal intake agents are trained in HIPAA regulations and compliance, and obtain certification prior to working with your law firm. Why is HIPAA compliance so important? Let’s take a closer look below.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is the common acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA is a federal law in the United States that regulates how healthcare providers, health plans, and other covered entities handle protected health information (PHI) of patients. It requires sensitive patient information to be protected by healthcare facilities, insurance providers, businesses, and other parties. Additionally, patient information must not be disclosed without the patient’s knowledge and/or consent. The law was enacted to ensure the privacy, security, and confidentiality of patients’ PHI, and to establish rules for its use and disclosure.
If your law firm accesses or uses identifiable patient healthcare information as part of your cases, then you know how important it is to follow HIPAA guidelines and protect your clients’ privacy. Legal call centers must be aware of HIPAA regulations and how they impact both inbound and outbound calls. Legal call centers often speak with potential clients about their cases, many of which include sensitive medical information. It is important that call centers provide adequate training for agents, and have clear policies in place to ensure HIPAA compliance.Have a Question? Call Us Today!
What Does It Mean to Be HIPAA-Compliant?
HIPAA compliance involves a series of measures and practices that call centers must follow to protect the confidentiality and security of PHI. These measures include:
- Implementing administrative, physical, and technical safeguards
- Conducting regular risk assessments
- Training employees on privacy and security policies
- Establishing policies and procedures for responding to data breaches
How can a call center ensure HIPAA compliance? Here are a few easy ways:
- Encrypting data
- Protecting passwords
- Securely storing data
- Training agents in proper handling of data
- Staying up-to-date on HIPAA updates
- Maintaining a secure appointment-setting process
- Securing text messaging services
HIPAA compliance is essential for call centers and law firms to avoid fines, legal liability, and damage to their reputation, as well as to protect the privacy and security of their patients’ PHI.Custom Intake Services. Get a Quote!
What is Protected Health Information?
Protected health information, or PHI, is health information created, received, transmitted, or stored by any HIPAA-covered entities and their business partners, including law firms and call centers. PHI includes data on physical and mental health, including:
- Identifiable Health Information (name, address, Social Security ID, etc.)
- Medical History
- Test Results
- Demographic Information
- Insurance Information
- Identifiable Healthcare Services Information
There are a few exceptions to what is included in PHI, such as:
- Patients who died more than 50 years ago
- Educational records
- Employee-patient records held by employers
PHI and HIPAA regulations apply to both physical and electronic information. Therefore, call centers, law firms, and other businesses must be careful to safeguard both PHI and ePHI (electronic PHI).Need a Legal Assistant? Call Us Today!
Why Your Legal Call Center Needs to be HIPAA Compliant
There are many reasons why a legal call center should be HIPAA compliant. First and foremost, it is legal and ethical way to conduct business. Furthermore, call centers that are HIPAA compliant are more reputable, trustworthy, and secure.
Being HIPAA compliant can have even more benefits for legal call centers, including:
- Improved Response Times
- Increased Efficiency
- Increased Customer Satisfaction
HIPAA compliance helps call centers like LCC stand out from the competition. Our partners and their potential clients can rest assured that their information is being handled appropriately and securely. At Legal Conversion Center, being HIPAA compliant means that our team:
- Ensures the confidentiality and integrity of protected information
- Safeguards against potential threats to security
- Protects against impermissible disclosure or use
Even if your law firm doesn’t routinely need access to HIPAA-protected information, it is best to work with a legal intake service that is HIPAA compliant. In that way, you know that any online or digital information is protected per HIPAA guidelines.
Medical compliance is incredibly important as there are strict penalties for HIPAA violations. Most HIPAA violations occur in healthcare settings, but it is worth noting that any company who requests HIPAA-protected information can suffer consequences for the following violations:
- Not destroying outdated or incorrect medical information
- Not releasing requested patient information quickly
- Inappropriate disclosure of patient information
- Malicious outside access to patient data (hacking, etc.)
- Misplaced or inappropriately kept physical documents
The best way to prevent HIPAA violations is to ensure that your business is HIPAA compliant, and your staff members are properly trained. At Legal Conversion Center, we provide our staff with federal HIPAA training and certification. This is part of our commitment to quality and integrity.
What is Business Associate Agreement (BAA)
A Business Associate Agreement (BAA) is a legal contract between a HIPAA-covered entity, such as a law firm, and a business associate, such as a call center. A BAA defines the terms and conditions for how the business associate will handle PHI on behalf of the covered entity.
Under HIPAA regulations, a law firm is required to enter into a BAA with their chosen call center to ensure that call center agents also comply with HIPAA rules and safeguard PHI appropriately. The BAA establishes obligations for the call center, such as:
- Protecting the confidentiality and security of PHI
- Reporting any data breaches
- Implementing appropriate safeguards
Failure to have a BAA in place can result in significant fines and legal consequences.Legal Intake Call Center. Get a Quote!
Four Main HIPAA Compliance Rules for Call Centers
HIPAA compliance is all about safeguarding the sensitive information of consumers. There are four main rules for HIPAA compliance for call centers:
The Privacy Rule
The Privacy Rules addresses compromised PHI that is used for identity theft purposes. To prevent identity theft, PHI must be protected in the following ways:
- Giving patients more control over their PHI
- Setting boundaries on how companies can use and disclose PHI
- Requiring safeguards to protect PHI from unauthorized access
Call centers should be committed to safely obtaining and storing PHI, and should never disclose PHI to other entities.
The Security Rule
The Security Rule addresses ePHI, or electronic PHI. Now more than ever, personal and identifiable information is stored digitally. The Security Rule defines the ways that companies must safeguard PHI using administrative, physical, and technical safeguards. These safeguards are intended to do the following for ePHI:
- Protect confidentiality, availability, and integrity
- Identify and protect against threats
- Protect against unauthorized use or disclosure
- Ensure compliance by all contractors and/or employees
The Breach Notification Rule
The Breach Notification Rule outlines the steps a company must take if they suspect a data breach involving ePHI. The company must conduct a risk assessment to determine the scope and impact of said breach, and determine if notification is needed. The assessment should be based on:
- The nature and extent of the breach
- The entity that used ePHI or who it was disclosed to
- If ePHI was viewed or obtained by an unauthorized entity
- If the risk to ePHI was mitigated
The Omnibus Rule
The Omnibus Rule was implemented in 2013 as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. This Rule addresses the requirements of healthcare providers in protecting PHI when working with business associates. This rule requires healthcare providers to:
- Update their BAA’s
- Attain assurance from business associates that they are also HIPAA compliant
- Attain assurance from business associates that they have updated Notice of Privacy Practices
Our HIPAA-Compliant Training and Protocols
At Legal Conversion Center, we are proud to have the HIPAA seal of compliance. This seal demonstrates our commitment to quality, ethical, and trustworthy legal intake services that our partners can count on.
Not only are we HIPAA compliant as a company, but we also ensure that all of our intake agents are trained and certified in HIPAA regulations and protocols. We also closely monitor our staff to ensure ongoing compliance, address areas of weakness, and correct any potential errors.
LCC also maintains strict adherence to HIPAA protocols when obtaining and managing PHI or other sensitive information. We utilize top of the line technology to encrypt and secure data, prevent breaches, and protect the identities of all consumers we come in contact with.
If you are looking to partner with a legal call center, trust the best – trust Legal Conversion Center.Need Legal Intake Services? Call Today.