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Why You Need a Second Phone Line to Stay HIPAA Compliant
31 Oct 2021

Why You Need a Second Phone Line to Stay HIPAA Compliant

With the increase of remote online integration within medical practices, taking steps to protect patient information online has become more important than ever.

This is especially true if you are handling patient information on a phone or other mobile device.

Mobile devices are more likely to get lost or stolen, and they also do not have as much protection against viruses and malware. Plus, they can access sensitive information over an insecure Wi-Fi connection more often than other types of devices.

Through a HIPAA compliant second phone line, patient information on mobile devices is more protected and secure.

Here’s a quick guide on the importance of a second phone line for a mobile device and how a HIPAA compliant phone number service can help protect sensitive information on your mobile device.



HIPAA Regulations for Phone Calls

Using a phone or another mobile device in a healthcare setting is not prohibited by HIPAA.

When a patient gives their phone number to a healthcare provider, it is HIPAA compliant for the provider to call and text patients about:

  • Appointments and appointment reminders
  • Checkups
  • Lab test results
  • Pre-operative instructions
  • At-home instructions
  • Hospital pre-registration instructions
  • Post-discharge follow up

If a call or text does not fall under one of these categories, then it is not HIPAA compliant. Contacting patients for advertising, telemarking, or solicitation purposes is not allowed.



Making HIPAA Compliant Phone Calls

HIPAA also regulates how the call should be made.

The call must start by stating your name and contact information, then the purpose of the call. You must only give information with direct relation to the call’s purpose under the HIPAA Minimum Necessary Rule.

It is recommended that healthcare providers do not call a patient more than three times a week. Calls should only last up to sixty seconds. Text messages should only be once a day at most and should not go over 160 characters.



Risks of Using Your Mobile Devices to Handle Sensitive Information

Mobile devices are not as secure as a computer set up in-house and on an organization’s secure network.

These devices are not as protected against hackers and viruses.

They have inadequate encryption, firewall, and antivirus software capabilities to protect sensitive information. This is especially true if you are accessing such information over an unsecured Wi-Fi network.

Mobile devices are also more likely to get stolen or lost.

Once this occurs, it increases the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive information. It may also mean that any apps that had access to business and medical information are at risk.



Benefits of a Second Phone Line

By using a second phone line, it is easier to follow HIPAA regulations and protect patients’ privacy when working from a remote location.

Second phone lines are one of the easiest ways to stay HIPAA compliant and protect sensitive information on a mobile device.

With a HIPAA compliant phone number service, you are provided:

With a second line app, sensitive information and messages are encrypted. It also provides you the ability to lock your account if your mobile device is lost or stolen.

This increases the security of your mobile device by a large amount, making it one of the best ways to protect client information.



Other Ways to Reduce the Risk of Unauthorized Access

There are several ways to reduce the risk of using a mobile device to access sensitive information.

It is important to make sure your phone or mobile device is updated. It should also be password-protected and outfitted with strong authentication safeguards.

Encryption should be enabled when sending or receiving emails and texts. You should also make sure you are on a secure Wi-Fi network before handling confidential information.

It is best to avoid sharing a mobile device that has access to confidential information with others.



Recommendations for Employers

Employers should provide extensive policies, procedures, and training on how to be HIPAA compliant and follow BYOD policies when accessing sensitive information on a mobile device.

Employers can have more control over the devices used to connect to their network if they provide company tablets. Employers can configure the tablets’ settings to only allow for certain programs and apps that are:

  • Work-appropriate
  • Ensure patient privacy
  • Are safe from viruses and malware

Employers should require the use of strong, HIPAA compliant passwords and double-authentication on these devices. This will help protect the sensitive information on the device if it gets lost or stolen.

Routine checks should be done on these devices to ensure they:

  • Are updated
  • Do not contain any malware
  • Are as efficient as possible 

This helps identify the potential risks of the storage and transmission of sensitive information and protects its confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

These routine checks can be done through a HIPAA/HITECH audit by a trusted auditing firm.



Staying HIPAA Compliant on Your Phone

A second phone line is one of the easiest, most convenient ways to keep patient information safe when working from a remote location.

With a HIPAA compliant phone number service, you can have the convenience of using a cell phone without risking the safety of confidential client information.

A second line app provides encryption services, HIPAA texting, and many other security features to protect confidential information.

Contact us today to learn more about how our HIPAA compliant phone number service can protect you and your clients from unauthorized access to sensitive information.

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