June 23, 2023

    HIPAA-Compliant Phone Service: What Is It and Who Needs It

    what is HIPAA-compliant phone service and who needs it

    In the healthcare industry, it’s vital to lead with a patient-first approach to provide optimal care. And one of the most important aspects is good communication. 

    Keeping patients informed about their care and upcoming appointments and being available to respond to any patient requests are imperative to any healthcare provider. 

    In the process however, it’s also important to be compliant and maintain proper security and privacy measures. And when it comes to patients, there is a lot of personal and sensitive data that providers have a responsibility to keep safe and secure. 

    That’s where the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (or HIPAA) comes in. But what is HIPAA and why is it important to find a phone service that is HIPAA compliant? Read on to find out!

    What is HIPAA?

    Established in 1996, HIPAA is a US federal law that protects the privacy and security of any Protected Health Information (PHI), or personal health information that relates to a person’s health status, including any medical history or treatment. 

    Information protected under HIPAA may include a patient’s: 

    • Full name 
    • Birthdate
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Email address 
    • Social Security number
    • IP address 
    • Hospital admission dates and reasons for admission
    • Family medical history 
    • Treatments 
    • Payment information 
    • Insurance information 
    • Vehicle and license information

    This law addresses the usage and disclosure of PHI by what are referred to in the healthcare industry as “covered entities” such as healthcare providers and health insurance plans. Information about a patient may not be disclosed without a patient’s consent unless it’s under unique circumstances.

    Covered entities are required to safeguard PHI through physical and technical measures and they must also report or resolve any breach of security. 

    What are the Main HIPAA Rules?

    There are 5 main HIPAA rules: the privacy rule, the security rule, the transactions rule, the identifiers rule, and the enforcement rule. Let’s break them down. 

    1. Privacy Rule

    The Privacy Rule outlines what is considered private health information, which organizations are considered covered entities that therefore must adhere to HIPAA, and how covered entities can use and disclose PHI without patient consent. It also allows patients to obtain copies of their medical records upon request. 

    2. Security Rule

    The Security Rule outlines and ensures regulation of the standards and practices used to protect electronic records of PHI. This may include proper storage, accessibility, and transmission of PHI. The 3 safeguard areas of security include administrative, physical, and technical. 

    This rule also allows covered entities to adopt new technologies that may improve the quality of patient care. As long as these new advancements are compliant and proper security is adhered to, entities are able to introduce them at their discretion. 

    3. Transactions and Code Set Rule

    The Transactions Rule requires covered entities to set and follow standards when transacting data protected by HIPAA electronically. There are specific code sets used in transactions of data, and covered entities have the responsibility to use them correctly. These code sets ensure the privacy, security, and accuracy of PHI. 

    4. Identifiers Rule

    This rule strictly applies to the unique identifiers for organizations that use administrative and financial transactions regulated by HIPAA. These include: 

    • Standard Unique Employer Identifier 
    • National Provider Identifier 
    • Health Plan Identifier
    • Unique Patient Identifier 

    5. Enforcement Rule

    The final rule of HIPAA, the Enforcement Rule, which was added in 2015, expands on the Privacy and Security HIPAA rules and increases the fines and penalties for any violations of HIPAA. 

    What is HIPAA-Compliant Phone Service?

    A HIPAA-compliant phone service is one that adheres to all the rules and regulations of HIPAA, ensuring the privacy and security of PHI. Because the rules of HIPAA state that covered entities are able to explore and adopt new, innovative technologies that may improve patient care, it’s vital that the systems healthcare providers choose to adopt adhere to these rules. Phone systems are no exception.

    VoIP HIPAA Compliant

    Is VoIP HIPAA Compliant? 

    Yes, it is possible for VoIP solutions to be HIPAA compliant, but they must meet 3 key requirements. 


    To ensure PHI is properly protected, VoIP providers must first implement a legally binding Business Associate Agreement (BAA) between covered entities and business associates. With a BAA, both parties are aware of their obligations and responsibilities to keep data protected. 


    Every device must allow proper authentication with a unique ID, assigned username, and password. This ensures that only authorized users can access the devices. Authentication may also include access controls, tracking and monitoring, and audit logs.


    Finally, all devices must have encryption technologies to ensure data is properly stored. VoIP providers use encryption called Transport Layer Security (TLS), or SIP over TLS, in order to protect and secure health data. This technology scrambles and mixes data and prevents hackers from accessing PHI. 

    Consequences of Using a Non-HIPAA Compliant VoIP Provider

    Using a business phone system that is non-HIPAA compliant can result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment. Penalties are typically determined according to 4 different tiers

    1. Violations that occurred due to lack of knowledge and could not have been realistically avoided.
    2. Violations that occurred that covered entities should have been aware of, but could not have been avoided, despite taking reasonable care and consideration of HIPAA. Violations in this tier still do not meet the criteria of “willful neglect” under HIPAA. 
    3. Violations knowingly made as a result of “willful neglect” and an attempt has been made to correct the violation within 30 days. 
    4. Violations knowingly made as a result of “willful neglect” and no attempt has been made to correct the violation within 30 days. 

    What Businesses Must Use a HIPAA-Compliant Phone Service? 

    Any covered entity, such as a healthcare provider, healthcare clearinghouse, or health plan provider, which transmits patient data electronically, or in this case, over the phone, must ensure their phone service is HIPAA compliant. 

    HIPAA rules and regulations may not only apply to the healthcare industry. Other professionals such as lawyers, accountants, consultants, etc. may need to comply with HIPAA if they store or process personal, private health information electronically.

    In particular, voicemail messages and call recordings may include sensitive and personal health information that must be properly protected. 

    Is net2phone HIPAA Compliant?

    Yes, net2phone’s cloud-hosted healthcare solutions are HIPAA compatible and ensure patients receive exceptional care and the best possible experience, all while keeping their information safe and secure. 

    Our healthcare communication solution is available with HIPAA-compatible call recording, voicemail, and voicemail transcriptions. Our services ensure private information is kept safe and secure and provide exceptional patient confidentiality. 

    net2phone will also sign a business associate agreement (BAA) to ensure proper compliance with HIPAA to protect your healthcare practice from any violations.

    Providing Exceptional Patient Care with net2phone

    Our healthcare communication solutions are cost-effective, secure, and reliable. 

    net2phone combines phone, video, messaging, and faxing into one unified communications platform so you can deliver top-notch communications. With net2phone’s advanced features like auto-attendant, auto dialer, call routing, and CRM and ERP integrations, you’ll increase productivity and efficiency. 

    Are you ready to put patient experience and communication at the heart of your practice? Reach out to our team today!

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