When you’re looking to grow your business, you may be thinking about taking on some medical clients. Before you begin to do so, there are some key things you should be aware of. By following certain rules and best practices, you’ll protect both your client and yourself. Be sure you:
Become Familiar With HIPAA Regulations
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It went into effect in the 1990s, and since then it has expanded into a suite of rules that govern how businesses in the medical realm handle information. When you take on a medical client, you need to familiarize yourself with the basics of HIPAA.
HIPAA centers on protecting patient privacy, and it’s especially important when patient information is stored and transmitted electronically. It involves providing technical, physical, and administrative safeguards to shield information. For example, a required technical safeguard is that people with access to sensitive health information need to have a unique username and password.
If you’re new to dealing with medical issues, you may want to hire a consultant who can help you get up to speed on all the HIPAA requirements.
Know Not to Give Advice
If you are running an outsourced customer service team and you take on a medical client, you may receive phone calls and emails that ask for medical advice. However, you should never give this kind of advice. The people contacting you may assume that your team members are qualified to speak on medical issues when they are really focused on things like billing or scheduling appointments. If your staff members aren’t doctors or nurses, they could get you into legal hot water if they offer medical advice.
You can direct people to medical services; you might give them contact information for a doctor or hospital, but that is as far as you should go.
Even if you or someone on your team has some medical qualifications, it is still wise to refrain from giving advice if you will be dealing with people outside of your state. This is because each state has specific licensing requirements for medical professionals.
Use Confidentiality Agreements
Image via Flickr by Daquella manera
Some vendors that work with businesses that must comply with HIPAA rules are required to enter a business associate agreement with those medical businesses. For example, an outsourced customer service agency or consultant may have to enter such an agreement with the HIPAA agreement.
Other vendors, however, such as marketing firms and cleaning agencies, may not need to enter a business associate agreement. In these cases, you can still show your respect for patent privacy by setting up a confidentiality agreement. This will help to make sure that your employees won’t share any private information that they may come across when they are dealing with the medical client.
Taking on medical clients may be a great way to expand your business. However, it presents a few legal and privacy issues that you need to be aware of. If you do your homework, medical clients will be more confident about working with you.