HIPAA Appointment Reminders: Compliance Tips for Small Business Owners
Does your small business rely on regular appointment booking? If so, you likely have questions about how to best manage appointments and send reminders, as well as how to comply with federal regulations like HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—when you send those reminders.
Automated appointment reminders are a great way to:
- Generate more revenue for your business
- Use office resources efficiently and effectively by managing confirmations and cancellations
- Reduce waiting lists and re-book in vacant time slots
- Maintain goodwill and contact with clients
Appointment reminders are also useful for a few other major reasons. To start, patients like them and find them more useful than reminder cards when it comes to jogging their memory about an upcoming appointment. More importantly, they work. In one study, just 23.5% of individuals who received a text message reminder no-showed for their appointment, versus 30.8% of individuals who did not receive a reminder.
Does My Business Need to be Compliant in Terms of HIPAA Appointment Reminders?
Compliance with HIPAA is especially important for you if your work falls into the area of health or human services. HIPAA rules were designed to help protect the sensitive healthcare information of patients as they move from one service provider to another. According to HIPAA, if your business handles “protected health information,” you will need to be compliant when you communicate with patients.
What this means is that all types of health providers are responsible for protecting patient information, and so are related services like medical equipment companies, consultants, auditors, and accountants. All patient data, including information related to insurance, billing, and treatment, is covered by HIPAA and needs to be considered when sending out HIPAA appointment reminders.
How Does HIPAA Affect My Communication with Clients and Patients?
The rules laid out by HIPAA provide good guidance for protecting sensitive client information, whether the federal government mandates that you be compliant or not. Many businesses that handle private financial or personal information may find the HIPAA compliance guidelines to be helpful.
Fortunately, HIPAA does allow for appointment reminders, since regulators recognize that they are a key part of patient care and office efficiency. That being said, HIPAA appointment reminders can only include:
- The date and time of the appointment
- The provider name and company
- The location of the appointment
Make sure that your appointment reminders do not include detailed notes, diagnoses, treatment plans, or financial information.
In addition to the above, you’ll want to keep a few other notes in mind:
You are required to comply with reasonable requests from patients who wish to opt-out of text message appointment reminders. Have a system in place that will offer patients and clients the chance to opt out of reminders completely or switch over to other forms of communication.
Be prepared to offer other formats of reminders, such as calls to your patients if that’s their preferred method of communication, or postcards sent through traditional mail.
It is also worth noting that your business under HIPAA is not required to send any type of reminder to patients, but if it offers the service to some clients, it must offer it to all.
How to Get Started with HIPAA Appointment Reminders
Appointment reminders are not a requirement, but they are a great service to offer. A platform like our Appointment Reminder software will integrate into your calendar and scheduling applications of choice to provide timely, automated reminders to clients and patients.
With Appointment Reminder, you won’t need to spend valuable time learning complicated new software. Our system is designed for plug-and-play use, and will start working immediately for your office and staff. It’s a cost-effective way to increase your response rates and optimize your working calendar.
If you’d like to get help in planning HIPAA-compliant appointment reminders, sign up for a free trial and see how our automated application will help you reduce no-shows while remaining compliant with HIPAA and respecting your clients’ privacy.