Corporate Compliance

HIPAA Q&A: HIPAA-compliant phone messages

Compliance Monitor, February 1, 2012

Q: What do you recommend for HIPAA-compliant phone messages regarding copay due at time of service and time of surgery change?

A: Since there is no way to know who may listen to voice mail messages left for a patient, always follow the “minimum necessary” rule. Teach your staff to leave the least amount of information needed to accomplish the purpose. If more information is needed, ask the patient to return the call.

Here are some good practice examples:

“This is Karen at the ABC Clinic calling for Mr. Smith. This is a reminder about your appointment on Tuesday, January 10, at 10:30a.m. There is a copayment of $30 due at the time of the visit. If you have any questions, please call us at 999-9999.”

“This is Karen at the ABC Clinic calling for Mr. Smith. We have changed the time for your procedure on Tuesday, January 10. Please report at 1:30 instead of 1p.m. Please call us at 999-9999 if you have any questions. Thank you.”

Note the minimal information left in the messages. There is no information regarding the name of the physician Mr. Smith will see, what services will be provided, or the type of surgery to be done.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, originally answered this question in the February 2012 issue of the HCPro, Inc. newsletter, Briefings on HIPAA. Brandt is vice president of HIM at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX and a nationally recognized expert on patient privacy, information security, and regulatory compliance. Her publications provided some of the basis for HIPAA’s privacy regulations.

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