How many communications platforms does a healthcare organization need?

nurse managing multiple phone systems, needs to consolidate to one phone system

Your practice is growing by leaps and bounds. Congratulations! Now comes the hard(er) part: deciding which technology solutions will streamline your workflows and offer the scalability you need.  Does that mean you should invest in a new EHR or EMR system? Should you purchase software that enables you to provide the option of online appointment scheduling for your patients? And does your medical group need more than just one communications platform?  These are all good questions for any growing medical practice to ask — but there is no 100 percent right or wrong answer. That’s because the number of communication platforms you need depends on your practice’s specific requirements and size.  Maybe you’re dealing with aging communications equipment for which upgrades aren’t available. Or you are simply searching for a scalable VoIP telephony solution that is both reliable and affordable.  In many cases, consolidating communications systems is a smart approach. Why? Because it typically streamlines operations while reducing costs. That’s a win-win situation!  Tips for Consolidating Your Communications Systems  To understand the best method for consolidating communication systems, you should first know what solutions they must include and what to avoid. For example, it’s crucial to research which systems will grow with your practice, meaning you won’t have to invest in a new system every time your medical group experiences an increase in patient flow. This approach also thoroughly assesses your current communication systems to identify redundancies. Once those redundancies are identified, developing your migration plan is crucial. The most important part here is ensuring that the plan enables the transition to a unified communications platform — with minimal disruption to your daily operations. Next up is training. If your staff are uncomfortable with your new system or don’t feel supported, they won’t use it to its full potential. Consider the case of Eugene Psychological Assessments (EPA), an Oregon-based practice specializing in neuropsychological evaluations. Before RingRx, EPA struggled with managing multiple phone lines and faxes across different locations. The practice manager, operating remotely from an RV, faced significant hurdles in unifying these disparate systems. By switching to RingRx, EPA consolidated its communication channels into one efficient platform and enhanced its service delivery through secure phone and text capabilities. This transition was pivotal in transforming their operations, enabling the practice to offer more services and contemplate expansion, all while ensuring HIPAA compliance and maintaining high levels of security and privacy for their sensitive patient communications. VoIP for Healthcare: Why Security is Paramount  As a healthcare practice, you know the importance of keeping data private. That is especially key when you are creating, receiving, maintaining and transmitting protected health information (PHI).  Any HIPAA-compliant phone system you select must adhere to stringent security measures and ensure compliance. The following security measures also should be included in your communications platform: End-to-end encryption: All communications, including messages and files, should be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access. Access controls: Role-based access controls should be implemented to restrict access to PHI, ensuring only authorized personnel can view or modify it. Audit trails: Maintaining audit logs helps track user activity, providing transparency in case of a security incident. Employee training: Staff members should receive training on HIPAA regulations and best practices for handling PHI. Business Associate Agreements (BAAs): BAAs should be established with service providers to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations. Data backups: Regular data backups and disaster recovery plans should be in place to prevent data loss.  Cost-Effectiveness: Maximizing Your Budget with Smart Solutions Managing costs effectively is as crucial as providing quality patient care. This is where the cost-effectiveness of a unified communications platform like RingRx becomes particularly valuable. RingRx offers a comprehensive suite of communication tools within a single platform. This integration eliminates the complexity and financial burden of maintaining multiple subscriptions and licenses from various providers. By streamlining your communication tools into one efficient system, RingRx simplifies your operations and leads to significant cost savings. With everything from voice calls to secure texting integrated into one platform, your practice can avoid the financial strain of piecemeal solutions. Understanding that no two healthcare practices are the same, RingRx offers scalable service plans that can be precisely tailored to meet the specific needs of your practice. This flexibility ensures that you’re not overspending on unnecessary features or services. Whether your practice is expanding rapidly or maintaining a steady pace, RingRx’s scalable solutions adapt to your growth, ensuring you only pay for what you need. This approach optimizes your costs, allowing you to allocate resources more effectively across your practice. Are you navigating the complexities of your growing healthcare practice and pondering the right communication tools to invest in? The answer might be simpler and more cost-effective than you think. Request a demo today to learn how RingRx’s communication solutions can help you streamline your practice’s operations, enhance data security, and effectively manage your costs.

3 Essential Questions for Evaluating Your Healthcare Practice’s Communications Platform

busy nurse using advanced phone system at hospital

Managing a healthcare practice goes beyond routine administrative tasks. It encompasses a range of responsibilities, from policy implementation to problem-solving. As a medical office manager, you’re pivotal in ensuring the smooth operation of the practice. This includes a critical aspect often overlooked: the choice of technology, particularly the communications platform. Technology in healthcare is not just about convenience; it’s about enhancing patient care and streamlining operations. The right communications platform can transform your practice, but how do you determine the best fit? This guide outlines three key questions to help you evaluate your current communications system. 1. Is your practice’s communications platform built to support secure patient engagement and communication?  Communication platforms in healthcare should support patient engagement by providing secure channels for patients to communicate with their healthcare providers, access health records and receive personalized health information (PHI). Why is this so important? Because it strengthens the patient-provider relationship, empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their health, increases practice efficiency and reduces administrative time.  You should be utilizing a solution that adheres to stringent security measures and provides full compliance with regulations such as HIPAA. In addition, Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) should be established with service providers to ensure compliance with HIPAA regulations, and all communications should be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access to protected health information.  2. Is your phone system designed for the healthcare industry to enhance collaboration among your team?  To provide high-quality patient care, all the members of your healthcare team — not only physicians — need to communicate effectively. Communication platforms built with healthcare practices in mind make it easy to communicate within your care team and enhance care, mitigating communications error that upset patients and push stress levels through the roof. .  Employing a communications platform that allows you to achieve these goals across multiple locations is especially important for larger healthcare practices. How is this achieved? By unifying separate VoIP phone lines and faxes and providing secure text capabilities. This streamlined communication enables real-time information sharing, appointment scheduling and easy call transfer, letting you handle patient inquiries quickly.  3. How many communications platforms does my practice need? That depends on the size of your practice and its specific requirements. In many cases, though, consolidating systems is a smart approach that streamlines operations and reduces costs.  The best approach to consolidation involves conducting a thorough assessment of the communication systems your practice is currently using. This identifies any redundancies and allows for a proper migration plan to be developed. Then, your practice can transition to a unified platform — with minimal disruption to the daily operations of your practice.  Another essential component of the transition to a unified communication platform is staff training and support. You want to ensure every team member is comfortable with the new system, and that your provider provides customized implementation training and support.  We built the RingRx communications platform specifically for healthcare practices like yours. As a patient-first phone system that can be customized to meet the unique needs of your practice, it offers numerous features, including call routing, phone number portability, OnCall, web-and machine-based faxing and more. Schedule a demo today to learn how RingRx will work for your practice.

Texting and Healthcare: The Challenges of Staying Current and Compliant

Injured patient texting doctor

Unlocking patient satisfaction and improving office efficiency are paramount goals for healthcare practices. The solution lies in incorporating HIPAA-compliant texting into your toolkit. By securely communicating with patients and streamlining internal workflows, you can enhance patient experiences and optimize operations. How Text Messaging Can Be HIPAA-Compliant  To say communication has undergone a sea change in the last twenty years would be an understatement. First, we had voicemail, then email, and finally, text messaging. Each has made delivering information easier and more convenient, but they’ve also raised privacy concerns, particularly in healthcare.  That’s where HIPAA and HIPAA compliance come into play. Though HIPAA was created to reform the health insurance market, its impact has had far greater reach, including how and to whom protected health information (PHI) can be shared. For example, the HIPAA law’s privacy provisions were intended to prevent healthcare fraud and abuse but created standards ensuring that electronic transmissions of certain health information were secure. Unfortunately, that dramatically affected providers’ ability to leave voice mail messages and what and how could be transmitted via email and text messages to patients and between healthcare colleagues. HIPAA does not prohibit text messaging, but specific requirements must be met. There are good reasons, as significant risks keep healthcare providers up at night. These include:  Texting protected health information to the wrong individual Patients inadvertently deleting critical information Lack of verification of receipt, leaving providers uncertain as to whether critical information has been received Messages remaining on a device that could be lost, stolen, or breached, and information being shared with an unauthorized individual  As a result of these genuine concerns, HIPAA has established safeguards surrounding text messaging. For example, access controls must be in place, and data must be encrypted. In addition, messages must be protected against deletion, destruction, and alteration, and an audit trail must be maintained to track and monitor activity if necessary. The Challenges of Combining HIPAA With Texting The texting platform on your phone lacks essential controls, posing significant challenges for healthcare offices. Physicians and professionals instinctively turn to their phones for efficient communication with patients and colleagues. Although messages without personal identifiers are HIPAA compliant, texts remain vulnerable to interception, storage on carrier servers, and unauthorized access. The risks extend beyond inadvertently sharing patients’ personal data. Healthcare practices face the real possibility of HIPAA breaches, with daily fines of up to $63,973 for violations. Consequently, healthcare professionals should exclusively use applications and technology explicitly designed for the industry by experts well-versed in HIPAA’s privacy rules. Benefits of Secure HIPAA Patient Texting and Healthcare Communications For a texting platform to be HIPAA-compliant, it must be a closed system that only authorized users can access.  While texting with patients is not strictly secure because their cell phones are outside of the system’s platform and can’t be encrypted, that does not preclude sending non-medical information about appointments, directions to the facility, and other administrative points. Keep in mind that patient messages can only be sent to those who have opted into the system.  Texting improves patient satisfaction and experience. It creates simplified access from patient to the office and from office to patient, reducing the incidence of phone tag. It makes setting and confirming (or canceling) appointments easy and can even be used to provide links to lab tests, patient forms, prescription renewals, and billing information. Removing these time-consuming tasks from phone and front office to text saves hundreds of hours otherwise spent answering or making phone calls and improves service delivery and staff morale. Texting eliminates the all-too-familiar situation of patients standing at check-in desks, waiting for staff members to attend to them. It dispenses hold times and the need for an immediate response. Once a secure digital message is sent to a patient, it can be answered immediately or asynchronously, allowing those involved to continue pursuing other tasks. Texts can also be automated so they are easily sent to the patient population or individual groups. From a professional staff perspective, a HIPAA-compliant text platform removes all concerns of risk and HIPAA violations while facilitating faster internal communication regarding patients. In addition, it allows providers to communicate directly to patients with complete certainty that they are reaching the right person. It lets them maintain their privacy by assigning unique originating numbers.  Texting directly with colleagues on supported, secured devices within a practice or facility is even more important to staff. A HIPAA-compliant communication system like RingRx means that staff can digitally discuss protected health information while texts remain internal. This can make a real difference in the speed with which diagnoses can be confirmed and treatment plans put into place. The applications for text messaging in healthcare are only beginning to be fully realized. Medical organizations are using them to request feedback on patient satisfaction and to request that patients post reviews of their experience on online platforms. They are being used to remind patients of upcoming appointments or that it is time to schedule an appointment, to confirm that patients are coming to a scheduled appointment or to offer an easy way to cancel and reschedule. Links to patient intake forms that are normally filled out in office waiting rooms can be sent ahead of time to improve efficiency and speed up the time between patient arrival and examinations. Patients can be notified that lab results are in, prescription refills are available, or invoices are past due, complete with a payment link.  Adding a HIPAA-compliant text platform to your medical organization provides an invaluable efficient resource that protects patient data and privacy, responds to patient demand, and meets the challenges of today’s modern healthcare demands.   How RingRx Enables HIPAA-Compliant Texting RingRx texting helps you stay connected with patients and co-workers using their preferred communications channels. It improves practice workflow, so patients receive better care, faster. RingRx makes it easy to send fast and convenient text messages that speed up crucial communications. Here’s how RingRx makes texting work for you: Patient Texting: Stay connected with patients using

Faxing in Healthcare – Bridging the Technology Gap and Staying Compliant

Medical office fax machine

Let’s talk about fax machines “1980 called, and it wants its fax machine back” isn’t as funny as it sounds.  Plenty of ready criticisms are available about the clunky devices: they take up valuable desk or floor space and require a phone line. Manual dialing is time-consuming, especially when there’s a real chance you’ll get a busy signal and have to start all over again. Paper and toner constantly need to be resupplied and refilled, and when repairs are needed, parts are becoming harder to find, leaving offices without the communication tool it relies upon.  For all the very real pain points that faxing represents, many medical offices still rely on them — after all, they’re familiar. They’re a HIPAA-compliant method of transmitting private patient information. But HIPAA-compliant VoIP telephony solutions that include eFax will save you money, improve security, and make your office more efficient. You’ll get information to the right people quickly, eliminate digitizing, integrate your data, and streamline your communication processes.   Why Healthcare Loves Faxing At first glance, it seems strange that healthcare — an industry that embraces innovation — still relies on what many see as dinosaur technology. But there are good reasons why medical offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and insurers are still faxing patient information. First, it’s a fairly straightforward piece of effective and generally reliable equipment. Doctors and staff know how to use it, and that comfort factor counts for a lot. Plus, faxing does not require software compatibility between offices or organizations, and it meets HIPAA privacy standards that only require that “reasonable safeguards” be implemented. It’s less exposed than cloud file sharing or email and isn’t vulnerable to password leaks or data breaches.  Where Old-School Faxing Becomes a Problem For all of the advantages that faxing still offers, it is increasingly being recognized as a problem. It requires power, a dedicated phone line, ink, paper, maintenance, and repairs, and it’s also a slow technology trying to keep up with a fast-paced environment. We all know the feeling of needing information on a patient immediately. When every second counts, the time it takes to walk to a fax machine’s physical location, input a number, then send patient records a page at a time — all with the possibility of encountering a busy signal, a paper jam, another patient’s records in the midst of transmission — seems interminable and maddening. Though an extreme example, the potential bottlenecks caused by fax machines were succinctly profiled by the New York Times during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic when results sent via fax by laboratories overwhelmed public health departments and significantly delayed the communication of essential data. The technology is slow, and the security of data sent via old-school fax is far from guaranteed. If your office uses a paper-based dial-up fax, you’re dealing with documents that may be sitting out in the open unattended while waiting to transmit or be received. Phone numbers can easily be misdialed, and private information inadvertently be sent to and seen by the wrong person. Plus, once transmitted, the information is not encrypted (though this is admittedly less of a problem than a widespread data breach.)  Paper faxing also means that somebody in your office must scan a received printout to be stored electronically in your EHR system, then filed in a physical filing cabinet. The amount of paper that’s consumed using traditional faxes is enormous: it’s estimated to consume over 200 billion sheets of paper every year, representing both expense and waste. Bringing Faxing into the Digital Age For all the real problems posed by faxing, the superior security it provides over email means that it remains healthcare’s most popular form of transmitting communication. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon. HIPAA-compliant efax technology, like that offered by RingRX, lets you keep on faxing – and even keeping your old fax machine – while revolutionizing your office’s workflow. Imagine being able to receive faxes in electronic format. Information can be faxed anywhere, using any device simply by accessing your portal, uploading documents, and hitting send. The files are encrypted whether you’re sending medical records, prescription refills, or inter-office messages. In contrast, they’re being sent and received and are only accessible by whoever has access to the email address you’ve input or the secure portal they’ve logged into. It scans received information for transfer into your EHR, shifting that task to a mouse click. It’s a 100% HIPAA-compliant answer that saves time, boosts security, increases efficiency, and eliminates paper and toner expenses and waste.  Whether you prefer to hold on to your existing traditional fax machines or step up to RingRx’s advanced web-based phone system, our HIPAA-compliant e-fax solution eliminates all of the headaches and hassles of old-school fax while maintaining the security your practice needs.  It’s an easy and reliable way to send and receive records and messages that ensures HIPAA compliance, increases office efficiency, and reduces costs. RingRx is committed to helping you improve your office operations and improve your patients’ care and experience. Contact us today to learn more about how our healthcare communications, e-fax, and telephone technology will empower your practice.

The Future of Call Management: How RingRx’s Call Reputation and Privacy Defender is Changing the Game

Young woman wearing doctor uniform stressed talking on the telephone at clinic

Have you ever stopped to count how many scam calls your medical practice receives on a daily basis? Unfortunately, what was once considered a nuisance has become an epidemic, particularly since the start of the pandemic.  According to the Federal Trade Commission, the proliferation of false phone calls and text messages is a side effect of well-intentioned government initiatives meant to help small businesses. Unfortunately, while some scam calls are merely annoying, others are sophisticated enough to swindle businesses out of money, with a typical loss of $1,200 per successful fraudulent call. For example, one recent spam call scheme involves using a recording of the recipient’s response to a seemingly innocuous question to authorize payment of fraudulent charges. How Scam Calls Can Affect Your Practice Medical practices are frequent targets of spear-phishing attacks and other scams that aim to steal money or information. Falling victim to these schemes can lead to significant expenses, loss of patients’ trust, and wasted staff time. The costs of receiving scam calls include: Jammed phone lines prevent patients from getting through to you or require staff to wade through countless false messages and texts. Poor productivity and morale as your staff needs help keeping up with spam calls that take time away from other work and calls. Potential release of confidential information into the wrong hands, leading to compensation for patients, loss of reputation, and loss of trust. Increased time and effort spent reaching out to patients who no longer answer their phones due to frustration with fraudulent calls. RingRx’s HIPAA-compliant phone service provides a comprehensive phone system that simplifies communication between your practice and your patients, offering features far beyond other medical phone services. Protect Your Practice from Scam Callers  Industry experts predict that scam callers are becoming more sophisticated in their approach. To help protect your practice, RingRx includes Call Reputation and Privacy Defender in every plan. Telesign powers these features and uses global mobile identity attributes to verify the identity of every call. Here’s how it works: Call Reputation A feature that identifies the nature of the calls to your practice. It provides visibility into valid and telemarketing calls by performing reputation lookups on all inbound calls. RingRx will indicate with a notation before the caller ID if scams or fraud are detected. Call Reputation works with Privacy Defender to provide a multi-layered approach to filtering spam and unwanted calls. Without the ability to distinguish between important calls and unwanted spam calls, staff members must spend valuable time answering and sorting through each call. This decreases productivity and causes morale to suffer as staff members are forced to deal with frustrating and time-consuming calls. In addition, the potential release of confidential information into the wrong hands can also cause harm to patients and harm the reputation of your practice. Privacy Defender A unique feature minimizes unwanted telemarketing and spam calls. It identifies the reputation scores of inbound callers and presents risky calls with a challenge. First, callers must enter a two-digit randomized number to prove they are human. Then, calls are redirected to voicemail, and future calls are not challenged. In addition to reducing fake calls, RingRx’s system decreases the cost-per-minute fees charged by your phone carrier. Furthermore, it reduces the risk of identity theft or other outcomes from fraudulent callers. This system confirms customer contact information, reducing your failed calls and messaging attempts. It also outsmarts robocallers by requiring them to enter a two-digit number on their keypad, a simple step for your patients. With RingRx’s HIPAA-compliant phone system, you can set powerful protections in motion without inconveniencing or challenging any numbers automatically included in your trusted callers list. Don’t let scam calls drain your practice’s productivity, morale, and finances. With RingRx’s Call Reputation and Privacy Defender, you can protect your practice from unwanted and risky spam calls in real-time, reduce the time staff spends dealing with them, and minimize the risk of identity theft or other outcomes from fraudulent callers. Contact us today for more information on how RingRx can offer your practice peace of mind.