The HITECH Act has direct correlation with answering services, due to most of our service is based in digital communication. These laws are enforced by the Omnibus and you are subject to potential audits.
What is and is not permitted by answering services according to the HITECH Act of 2009.....
To summarize the Act in simple terms; the government says that sending insecure email or text messages is no different than sending a postcard through the mail. In more specific words, they have deemed it easily accessible and proper precautions must be made to make that information secure. For a digital message to be secure it must be encrypted. Digital messages are any messages that are sent by text message (SMS) or email.
What is allowed by HITECH:
Phone Call: We are premitted to take and relay any information over the phone to the on call individual. This is after a HIPAA agreement has been made between the answering service and the medical practice. PHI may not be relayed to any unauthorized individuals.
Numeric Paging: This is sending a phone number or other NON PHI information to a digital or alpha digital pager or cell phone. This message is relayed insecure but no PHI is transmitted.
Faxing: We are permitted to fax messages to the office of our medical clients. We are not permitted to fax information to any other location other than those authorized by the client.
Encrypted Messaging: This is where the answering service sends you an password protected and secure message to a smart phone. After logging into the app or website you will be given access to PHI that was acquired during the taking of the patients message. There are many 3rd party apps for this at a cost, we offer Secure Delivery to our clients at no additional cost!
Secure Email: This is sending an email through a specific password protected and encrypted email server.
What is not allowed by HITECH:
Alpha Pagers or Text Messages: PHI is not permitted to be transmitted over the air.
Insecure Emailing: We are not permitted to send e-mail messages in an insecure manor.
For full information regarding the HITECH Act of 2009, please visit the Department of Health and Human Services website.