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Google Voice

Discussion in 'Psychiatry' started by Majesty, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. Majesty

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    I don't know how many of you guys use google voice but its a pretty cool and cheap feature for a second line as well a pretty interesting voicemail function.

    I'm thinking about using it for my office and forwarding the calls to my cell so that I can screen calls as well as shut it off after hours etc and let it go to voicemail. But I'm a little concerned about the big brother aspect of google.

    What are the HIPPA implications of something like this. I would guess most people wouldn't send patient information through google's hands.

    EDIT: if not this then what other options are out there? Same for email and fax. What's the cheapest virtual office possible that is also secure?
     
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  3. atsai3

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    During residency we were admonished to never send patient related mail through our academic accounts, much less our personal accounts. (We had a secure mail system set up specifically for this purpose.) I can see how using Google Voice would run into the same issues. Hard to see how it would really be a problem just for handling voice calls, but your voicemails get auto-transcribed and e-mailed to you over a non-secure connection.
     
  4. nitemagi

    nitemagi Senior Member
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    I thought about doing this for a while, but I decided I couldn't rely on google as a reliable phone line connecting to patients. I didn't feel confident that calls would definitively go through, and with a free service, there's less accountability. Plus what if they cancel the service? I wouldn't want to have to advertise a whole new phone #. I instead added a line to my regular cell account, cheap flip phone. $10 extra a month. Easy enough. Then in the future I can forward it to an answering service when I reach that point in my practice.
     
  5. strangeglove

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    I use Google Voice in my private practice, and it works quite well. It's especially nice to be able to hear messages and answer them as they are being left (like screening calls on an answering machine). Regarding the confidentiality issues: You can turn of the transcribing feature, rendering this a simple voicemail function. The messages are stored at Google, which may make some feel uncomfortable. However, it seems to me that Google is as secure as any other voicemail service, most of which are storing voicemails on a server anyway (and, as we all know, these are easily hackable by the likes of Rupert Murdoch). This may all be moot if you are required to be HIPAA compliant (i.e. if you are taking insurance).
     
  6. Manicsleep

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    You can use a service like ring central.

    Although its not cheap for business class, its not super expensive either. It will grow with you and it is portable and can connect multiple offices. I would just disable the voicemail to email feature, its easier that way.

    Google is free because they make money from ad revenue. They monitor everything so even if they aren't stealing the data, its still not private enough for hipaa.
     
  7. Technotronic

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    :)
     
    #6 Technotronic, Aug 9, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011
  8. Suedehead

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    I didn't know the hipaa folks had updated things to address newer technologies. I think it's all still very gray. I'd love some clarity if anyone has anything concrete.
     
  9. Manicsleep

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    Don't worry about it.
     
  10. digitlnoize

    digitlnoize Rock God
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    Nothing concrete, but I know for a fact that tons of people are using both VOIP and Skype (which are both encrypted) for medicine. I think as long as you take reasonable precautions (i.e. encryption) then it's ok.
     
  11. Sneezing

    Sneezing Even Bears do it!
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    there are e-fax services, too.
     
  12. whopper

    whopper Former jolly good fellow
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    At the AAPL conference 3 years ago, the technology committee advocated the use of Google Voice and said it's kosher. That said, it was 3 years ago and I don't know if there's anything fundamentally different with Google Voice now vs. then though I doubt it.

    Three years ago, if I remember correctly, Google Voice was still in a limited use phase.
     
  13. WannaSwitchBack

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    I have been using it for years. I actually put my G voice number on my signature line on my emails. It was very handy when I was a chief resident as I sometimes received calls from drug reps and insurance sales calls. You can permanently send a number to disconnect announcements and whatnot. I have yet to use it with patients however. I use it as a number to give out to people I may not want to call me on a regular basis.

    The thing to know about is if you are considering using it, is that Google routes the calls via all sorts of different numbers, so there is no consistency with the caller ID aspect of the receiving end- in other words, if you make a call using google voice, the person you are calling is probably not going to see your G voice number pop into their caller ID screen- instead they will see the random number that the call is being routed through. So, you will have to deal with "now, what is your number exactly?" a lot. Thus, I only give out my google voice number to people I doubt I will be conversing with a lot, and will mostly be calling me. For that it is very handy.
     
    #12 WannaSwitchBack, Aug 13, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011

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