HIPAA Compliant Phone Services

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Not sure which affordable virtual phone providers offer secure HIPAA compliant phone lines for your practice?  If you’re a therapist or medical professional looking for HIPPA compliant VoIP phone services, this article will help you understand why Google Voice and other free number forwarding services might put your practice in jeopardy of violating both HIPAA laws, and you’re state laws… depending on your usage. We cover which services NOT to use, give you a list of reputable compliant phone providers that let you add a business line to your cell if you choose, and give you resources to choose the best business phone system for your business. As always, there is a comment system at the end of the article, so if you get stuck or have a question, enter it there.


Summary: These Are The Best HIPAA Compliant VOIP Phone Systems We Use

Normally we recommend Grasshopper for a solopreneur business, such as sales persons, contractors, therapists, etc… But in this case where HIPPA laws are important to adhere to, only these HIPPA compliant virtual phone providers are suitable choices out of our recommendations:

1) Phone.com

2) Ring Central


Other VoIP Phone Services I Recommend But (ARE NOT) HIPAA Compliant

Just to be clear, and to make sure you don’t happen to see another service listed on another page linked from this article and think it’s HIPAA complaint, these are the phone services I commonly recommend to small business owners like contractors, solopreneurs, etc…

While these are an awesome fit for most mobile small businesses and sole proprietors, these are not a good fit for the medical industry … simply because they do not offer a HIPPA compliant option:

* Do not use any of the services listed directly above for medical office lines or private practice therapy, even if you see them listed elsewhere as a good service option.


A HIPAA Compliant Virtual Phone Number Is Perfect For Therapists, Medical Offices, And Physicians

Very often, it’s not necessary to have added expensive office overhead like a multi line phone system for therapists and medical professionals. Most are on the go, see patients one on one, and in general do not field a ton of calls like a large office with a secretary would.

A virtual number is the perfect business phone solution for small business owners to add a professional sounding phone line to their personal cell phone. It’s a win win, since you don’t have to carry an extra device, and clients will never know you aren’t calling from your office wherever you happen to be when you take their call.

The smartphone apps are secure, and HIPAA compliance ensures you’re not violating any laws, even if you run a practice that doesn’t technically have to be HIPPA compliant.

Why Do Therapists Need A Virtual Number?

Separating work from personal time can often be very difficult for some therapists and physicians. Having a business line on your smartphone that is totally customization to your work hours is extremely beneficial.

Being able to differentiate from work and personal calls, have a separate business voicemail, and custom greeting, makes adhering to your professionalism and personal boundaries that much easier.

Winding down at home, even while on call, presents a new challenge in itself. With a quick glance at your phone, and knowing if it’s a work text or personal call, saves precious time and energy when you’re supposed to relaxing and de-stressing… so you have more energy and can be the most attentive possible for your next patient.

The Benefits Of A HIPAA Compliant Phone App

Having the right boundaries is absolutely critical in maintaining a work life balance that ensures both your happiness, and the great results you’re able to achieve with your patients by being your best.Having a virtual business line ensures that this is possible, so you never have to give out your personal cell phone number again, even though you can still be “on call” from your personal cell phone (just with your business line attached whenever you have the app enabled).


Do You Even Need A HIPAA Compliant Phone System For Your Business?

As I’m sure you’ve seen from the many reviews and discussion online, there is such a gray area here you want to be on the safe side to protect yourself, both legally, and professionally (reputation wise).

The short of what matters is, if you’re using a phone app or virtual phone service that makes changes to their app, and all the sudden you’re storing patient data on their cloud servers, then you could be on the hook for…

…you guessed it: a HIPPA breach.

Of course private pay only therapists don’t have to abide by the same rules *technically*, but depending on your local state laws, along with the other anomalies that don’t have to comply with Hippa, it’s still crazy to potentially be in hot water over saving a few bucks using the wrong phone system.

Note – Your state might also have even more strict rules of it’s own, and you’ll want to check them to be sure. I would recommend just using a Hipaa compliant phone service instead of something like Google Voice anyway… a few bucks a month is nothing for peace of mind.


HIPAA Law Penalty For Mobile Device Breech Of Compliance

  • violates can be assessed $100-$50,000 PER VIOLATION, with a cap of $1.5 million per calendar year. (source)

Why Google Voice For Therapists Is A Bad Idea

This comes up time and time again for therapists and private practices that are just starting up and on a bootstrap budget. But again and again, it’s clear that Google does not stand behind signing BAA for Google voice specifically, making it non HIPPA compliant if that’s what you need. (despite all the YouTube videos saying otherwise!)

Administrators for G Suite Basic, G Suite for Education, G Suite for Government, G Suite Business, and G Suite Enterprise domains must review and accept a BAA before using Google services with PHI. Google offers a BAA covering Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive (including Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms), Google Hangouts (chat messaging feature only), Hangouts Meet, Google Keep, Google Cloud Search, Google Sites, Jamboard, and Google Vault services. – source

So, when it comes down to it, Google Voice is classified as a “non core service,” and is NOT covered by the blanket G Suite HIPAA Compliance list.

Do not use google voice is you need to be hipaa compliant in your practice.


Google Will Not Sign A BAA For Google Voice (they can’t!)

“I have NEVER seen any discussion on this forum that stated, implicitly or explicitly, that Google Voice is HIPAA compliant. Google does NOT sign BAAs for Google Voice. The service is NOT HIPAA compliant, and it must never be used for healthcare-related purposes.

Until Google Releases A “Google Voice For Business” It Will Never Be Included In Its Business Associate Agreement

Aside from that, Google does not recommend business use of Google Voice, and it is not a supported component of G-Suite (no service level guarantee, and no customer service from Google).

GV (google voice) is a consumer-targeted offering that is great for personal, non-business use. It does not have any direct technical support, and it does have occasional outages and hard-to-diagnose bugs. When things go wrong, any money you saved on GV calling could be quickly offset by a loss of business, or by damage to your business’ online reputation, from unhappy customers who can’t reach you.

There are numerous other, affordable options for small business telephony, including “cloud” hosted or locally-managed VoIP services.” – source

I Use Google’s G Suite For HIPPA Compliant Email, Can I Add Google Voice And Stay Hippa Compliant Since I Pay For G Suite?

“Google Voice is not a supported component of G-Suite, and it is not covered at all by the HIPAA BAA for G-Suite. This is intentional. By design, the features of Google Voice cannot be made compliant. For example, it is not possible to disable Google Voice’s text messaging feature, which is not encrypted.

Given the very high fines for non-compliance, it’s not worth the risk to use Google Voice for health care purposes.” – source


PDF’s You Can Download To See The Official Protocol For HIPAA Compliant G Suite:


VoIP FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Is Google Voice HIPPA Compliant? No.

Is Grasshopper Phone Service HIPAA Compliant? No.

Is Vonage HIPAA Compliant? Yes.

Is Ring Central HIPAA Compliant? Yes.


Resources:

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