Most of your time and attention goes towards treating your patients. But as a healthcare practitioner, your practice is a business. It’s only a matter of time when your accounts receivable team runs into overdue accounts and unpaid bills.

If you decide to enlist a medical revenue debt collection service for help, you need to see if they’re acquainted with HIPAA. This federal law sets the standards for personal health information protection, even when bad medical debt collection.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA — or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — protects medical records and other identifying health information. First passed in 1996, it has been updated over the past 24 years to include information collected electronically.

Protected health information (PHI) includes the following information:

  • Contact details, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security Numbers, IP addresses, and email
  • Health status, including medical records, device numbers, biometric identifiers
  • Payment of health care, such bank information, credit card numbers, and insurance
  • Provision of health care

What is HIPAA Compliance?

By law, any company that handles PHI must have physical and network security measures in place to safeguard this data. Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, there is a national set of security standards that companies must adhere to at these specific times.

  • Collecting data
  • Storing records
  • Sharing information
  • Disposing of records

By now, safeguarding PHI should come as second nature to your practice. But did you know any company you interact with while sharing PHI must also follow these same rules?

That includes all the payment and insurance companies, other medical associates that provide treatments, and software programs that support your business. If you choose to partner with a medical bill collection agency, they need to be HIPAA compliant, too.

How Medical Bill Collections Safeguard Information

A medical bill collection agency should take its duty to shield PHI seriously. Ask your medical bill collections agent outright if they are HIPAA compliant. If they try to avoid the question, that’s as good as answering “no.”

Take a look to see if they have a comprehensive privacy policy available on their website for good measure. If they share the digital status of your accounts online, make sure it’s a HIPPA-compliant portal where you can review your medical bill collections’ progress.

Rather than taking your chances with a medical bill collections service that skirts regulations, you should only ever partner with a company that adheres to all medical bill collections laws.

Why Does HIPAA Compliance Matter?

HIPAA regulations are there to protect the privacy of your patients. It ensures you don’t accidentally leak their PHI to fraudsters who intend to misuse this data.

Beyond your moral obligations, you also have a legal responsibility to protect this data. If you fail to do so, you could face significant fines and a hefty knock against your reputation.

When you built your practice around your patients, the last thing you want is a scandal to break out over your mishandling of data. So, the next time you need help recovering debt, be sure to check your medical collection agency’s privacy policy to ensure you’re HIPPA compliant at every step of the process.