Stay HIPAA Compliant With Regular Training
Posted on 11/30/23 By Guest Contributor
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a standard federal law of the United States established to protect the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information. Healthcare providers, health plans, and healthcare clearinghouses are covered entities entitled to following HIPAA, including business associates with access to protected health information.
Training is vital in the compliance of HIPAA for healthcare providers and business associates to ensure the guaranteed privacy and security of patients’ health information. Without proper HIPAA compliance training, there is a risk of breach of protected health information, which can result in legal repercussions to healthcare organizations; this includes fines, jail terms, and restitution.
Who Needs HIPAA Compliance Training?
Any individual who handles protected health information for patients must complete HIPAA compliance training to ensure data security. Examples of individuals may include doctors, nurses, and any member of a covered entity or business associate.
The human resource department managers and employee trainers are responsible for training their staff on HIPAA compliance and ensuring they understand the HIPAA regulations and standards. Human resource professionals must learn HIPAA regulations to educate their employees on the proper information effectively.
What Needs to Be Included in HIPAA Training?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines the standard and updated training materials needed by employees and human resource professionals to accommodate the proper procedures. The necessities of HIPAA training include:
1. HIPAA Terminology & Standards
This includes protected health information (PHI), PHI confidentiality, the Minimum Necessary Standard, authorization and rights for patients, and other essential information regarding reprimands and repercussions for failing to follow HIPAA regulations.
2. HIPAA Five Regulatory Rules
The Department of Health and Human Services enforces five rules to handle and prevent healthcare fraud, abuse, and misinformation known as the Privacy Rule, the Security Rule, the Enforcement Rule, the Identifiers Rule, and the Transaction Rule. The five regulatory rules should be covered in training, and employees will need knowledge of each practice.
3. HIPAA Security Topics
The Security Rule includes security requirements to protect patients’ electronic PHI confidentiality, integrity, and availability. Most covered entities use strict technology to control and monitor the access of PHI; however, it is vital to train all employees on HIPAA security rules and to educate them on cybersecurity best practices.
When Should HIPAA Training Be Provided and How Often?
HIPAA does not specify the frequency of training, but it is generally recommended that covered entities and business associates provide HIPAA training to their employees at least once a year. HIPAA training is required for each new member of a covered entity’s workforce. Providing HIPAA training as part of a new employee’s orientation helps ensure the employee understands HIPAA-related policies, how they pertain to their job functions, and how to stay compliant. HIPAA training should also be provided whenever there is a change in working practices or technology, whenever a risk assessment identifies a need for further training, or whenever new rules or guidelines are issued by the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS). Security and awareness training programs should also be ongoing.
Regular HIPAA training mitigates the risk of data breaches and cybersecurity issues that can lead to non-compliance. Failure to comply with HIPAA and HHS standards can result in legal consequences that damage the organization's reputation.
Consequences of Inadequate Training
Failing to provide employees with adequate training in HIPAA regulations and policies can have many consequences. In violation of the HIPAA Regulatory Rules, the consequences include:
- Fines up to $50,000 per violation/record
- Potential imprisonment
- Organization reputation damage
- Further legal action
It is crucial to provide adequate and knowledgeable training to employees to ensure direct compliance with HIPAA. Proper training makes it easier for covered entities to minimize the risks and consequences of violating HIPAA laws.
HIPAA regulations can be complex and may change over time. Regular training keeps employees informed about the latest requirements, guidelines, and best practices related to handling PHI. This ensures that employees have accurate and up-to-date knowledge of their responsibilities under HIPAA.
Regular training also helps mitigate the risks associated with PHI handling. Well-trained employees are more aware of potential risks, such as phishing attacks or unauthorized access, and are better equipped to identify and respond to such incidents. This helps organizations minimize the likelihood of breaches and potential legal and financial consequences.
When employees understand the importance of protecting PHI and the potential consequences of non-compliance, they are more likely to prioritize privacy and security in their day-to-day work. Training reinforces the organization's commitment to maintaining a HIPAA-compliant environment and creates a culture of privacy and security within the organization.
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