Navigating Communication Compliance in Healthcare

3 min read

Mats Perjons | January 17, 2024

The healthcare industry has always been at the forefront of safeguarding sensitive patient information, a responsibility that has become even more crucial in the post-pandemic era. With the rapid shift to digital communication channels and telehealth services, adhering to communication compliance regulations is not just a legal obligation but a cornerstone of patient trust and safety.

We’ll explore why healthcare communication compliance is paramount today and how it shapes the industry's future.

Increased Reliance on Digital Communication

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare. Telehealth consultations, electronic health records, and digital patient portals are commonplace. While these advancements improve accessibility and efficiency, they raise significant compliance concerns regarding data privacy and security. Ensuring secure, encrypted channels for communication and adhering to standards like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the US are critical to protecting patient information.

Because of this, telehealth has emerged as a vital tool for providing healthcare remotely. However, this convenience also introduces complexities in maintaining communication compliance. Healthcare providers must ensure that their telehealth platforms comply with regulations, such as data encryption and secure patient identification processes.

The Impact of Emerging Regulations on Operations – 2023 CMS Final Rule

New regulations are always on the horizon. Like all regulated industries, the healthcare sector must adapt to these new regulations as they are developed. This includes understanding the nuances of state, federal, and international laws, especially for organizations that operate in multiple regions.

For example, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule in response to address complaints of inappropriate marketing practices by Medicare Advantage organizations and Third-Party Marketing Organizations (TPMOs). The rule requires all TPMOs to adhere to all applicable laws, regulations, and CMS guidelines, including the requirements for conducting lead generation, marketing, selling, and enrollment activities with Medicare beneficiaries, as outlined within the 2023 CMS Final Rule released May 9, 2022.

This meant that insurance companies and TPMOs, including healthcare agents and brokers, were now required to record all “marketing” calls with beneficiaries, including the enrollment process. This rule applies to both new and existing clients of the organization. The call recordings must then be stored HIPAA-compliant for at least 10 years – which almost certainly means higher operational costs for the affected companies. And that’s just one of the over 600 regulations that could potentially update their rules regularly, keeping every company’s compliance officers on their toes.

Educating Healthcare Staff and Safeguarding Patients’ Trust

With emergent technologies and communication channels, educating healthcare staff on compliance is crucial. Regular training sessions about the latest compliance regulations and the proper handling of patient information can mitigate risks associated with data breaches and non-compliance.

To further complicate matters, these emergent technologies have the potential to break the immense trust that patients give their healthcare providers. Ensuring adherence to communication compliance regulations protects this information. It strengthens patient trust in the system, essential for patient retention in a post-pandemic world where patients are more actively involved in their healthcare journey.

The Cost of Non-Compliance with HIPAA

Often, non-compliance leads to severe legal and financial consequences for healthcare organizations. From 2020 to 2022, the fines and penalties for violating HIPAA – the US federal law requiring national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge – amounted to about US $21.6 million.

On top of that, the financial impact of ensuring data protection laws like HIPAA is also substantial, with the American Hospital Association reporting that the healthcare industry spends US $39 billion every year on the administrative aspects of regulatory compliance. While administrative and functional reforms are being considered, the reality is that it will only grow evermore complex. More importantly, non-compliance can result in a loss of reputation, which can have long-lasting effects on an organization’s credibility and ability to provide care.

Leveraging Technology to Ensure Compliance

So, how does one navigate this seemingly ever-changing landscape? The short answer is embracing technology as an ally. Leveraging technology can be a game-changer in ensuring compliance. Mitel Interaction Recording (MIR), powered by ASC Technologies, has tools that monitor communications and flag potential compliance issues that have been proven to help healthcare organizations remain compliant with healthcare standards and regulations.

MIR is at the forefront of delivering the highest levels of compliance across several industries with features that include:

  • Highest security standards with encryption
  • Flexible recording rules
  • Powerful search and easy replay with strong access rights controls
  • Identifying calls that contain personal data
  • Automated compliance screening and alerting

Imperative of Healthcare Communication Compliance

In the post-pandemic age, where digital communication in healthcare is more prevalent than ever, fulfilling communication compliance regulations is not just a regulatory requirement but a critical component of patient care. It involves a proactive approach to safeguarding patient data, educating staff, and leveraging technology to maintain the highest privacy and security standards. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, so must our commitment to communication compliance, ensuring a secure and trustworthy healthcare environment for all.

Learn what Mitel can offer healthcare organizations today.

Mats PerjonsProduct Marketing Manager

Mats has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications. During that time, Mats has worked in product management and product marketing for other worldwide, leading organizations in addition to Mitel, including Telepo, Telenor, Global IP Sound  and Ericsson.

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