HIPAA in India, Asia, and Europe:
The HIPAA Security Rule

Covered entities often use call centers for answering services and call-forwarding services.  Call centers are centralized locations to which phone calls from patients are directed. Call centers have the ability to handle inbound and outbound calls. Call centers also communicate with providers via text and email messages. In terms of HIPAA, a call center is the business associate of a covered entity. Therefore, both entities – the covered entity and the business associate – must fully comply with the relevant HIPAA regulations. Call center compliance obligations with HIPAA in India, Asia, and Europe, are discussed below.   

HIPAA in India, Asia, and Europe

Call Center Compliance Obligations With HIPAA in India, Asia, and Europe

Call center compliance obligations with HIPAA in India, Asia and Europe, include compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule.

Call centers must comply with the Security Rule because call centers, as business associates, create, receive, maintain or transmit PHI or ePHI on behalf of (or for the benefit of) a covered entity (directly or through another business associate), to carry out covered functions or transactions of the covered entity. Any entity performing such functions must comply with the Security Rule. 

How Does HIPAA Compliance for Call Centers Actually Work?

HIPAA security compliance for call centers consists of implementing security measures such as secure texting solutions, secure messaging networks, and encryption. 

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Call centers that communicate with providers via text have an obligation under the Security Rule to implement HIPAA-compliant texting. A secure texting solution allows for compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule (and therefore, ensures the integrity of ePHI and guards against data breaches). When both the covered entity and call center use the same secure texting service, end-to-end integrity of ePHI is preserved. Having this security can enhance the level of service provided to patients. 

A secure texting solution has the additional benefit of only permitting authorized users to access the call center’s private communications network. With secure texting solutions, network administrators issue unique usernames and PIN codes, which permit authorized app users to gain access to the network.

Once authorized users have accessed the network, these users can then communicate with other authorized users in the network. In addition, authorized users can share files, images, and documents among each other, as is necessary to perform their job duties. A secure texting solution also allows for secure group discussions if the need for such discussion arises.

Another security safeguard that renders call centers HIPAA-compliant, is a secure messaging network. Here, to prevent ePHI from being transmitted outside of the call center’s network, the network is monitored by a secure messaging network that is in the cloud.  If a potential breach of ePHI is detected, the relevant communication can be deleted remotely. 

An additional security safeguard that can be used to render call centers HIPAA compliant, is encryption to NIST standards. Encryption to NIST standards renders communications unreadable, undecipherable, and unusable, in the event that these communications are intercepted on a public wifi network.   

A security measure known as a PIN lock can also be used to comply with the Security Rule. “PIN-locking” a mobile device ensures that, if an authorized user loses the device, or if it is stolen, unauthorized access will be prevented.

Security Rule compliance for call centers may also consist of so-called “message lifespans,” which are features that remove messages containing ePHI from a computer or mobile device after a predetermined period of time (the creators of Mission: Impossible would no doubt understand the concept). 

Once a call center is in compliance with the Security Rule, any number of vital activities can be performed:

  • On-call physicians can securely receive sensitive patient information on the go.
  • Medical images and records can be attached to secure text messages, which can be read by physicians before treatment.
  • The speed and convenience of secure mobile technology can allow physicians to provide higher quality of care. 

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