What is a HIPAA Certification?

No recognized Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) certification exist for an organization or provider. However, there are guidelines for protected healthcare information (PHI) that must be followed. Certification programs exist that include some or all the procedures outlined in the HIPAA Act as required by Health and Human Services Department (HHS) and enforced by Civil Rights Office (OCR).

To become HIPAA certified, an organization must complete compliance training, assessment, and certification from a private HIPAA training company. The goal of this certification is to ensure there is proper education that prevents data breaches and rule violations. HIPAA certification helps you avoid patient complaints, subsequent OCR investigations, and severe fines and penalties. This post explains HIPAA certification and how to get HIPAA certified.

How do You Become HIPAA Certified? 

It is crucial to understand that the federal agencies determining compliance, HHS and OCR, do not recognize or endorse HIPAA certification. Organizations should be aware that no provider can "certify" HIPAA compliance. To learn HIPAA compliance, you must take a certification course or program through a third-party education program. Although many different certifications are available, keep in mind that HHS and OCR accept none. Having a HIPAA-compliant certificate demonstrates one of the following:

  • An accreditation that shows a business has successfully undergone a HIPAA compliance audit.
  • An acknowledgment that certain employees have achieved the degree of HIPAA comprehension required to comply with the organization's laws and standards.

In other words, a healthcare organization receiving a HIPAA-compliant certification may indicate they comply with the Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules of HIPAA. Typically, this entails having your business audited by a third-party certification provider to determine whether your practices comply with HIPAA regulations. You can then unofficially become "HIPAA Certified" if they decide you comply. It is impossible to obtain an official certification that verifies your level of compliance. Additionally, the HHS warns organizations against false marketing claims that imply certain compliance training and materials are endorsed by the HHS or the OCR.

Does HIPAA offer national certification?

Unfortunately, some companies, such as HIPAA Training, claim their training courses will provide you with a "2-year, nationally recognized certificate." This is a false claim because no software, product, or service is HIPAA certified. Businesses advertising their courses this way are spreading misleading and inaccurate information to their customers. It would help if you turned to a trusted and affordable provider for your HIPAA training, such as HIPAA Exams. We offer a vast catalog of HIPAA training courses with completion certificates that allow your organization to comply with HIPAA-mandated guidelines. Our courses include the HIPAA Privacy Rule, HIPAA Security Rule, HIPAA HITECH, and HIPAA Omnibus rule.

Moreover, HIPAA Exams is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education & Training (IACET), a non-profit association dedicated to quality continuing education and training programs. IACET accredits education and training providers that meet strict guidelines; this ensures verified information, legitimacy, and a minimum standard of excellence. This means our training courses undergo a rigorous review process for standards of quality by the IACET. Considering the IACET's rigorous tests, standards of quality, and review process, there is an additional level of expertise associated with this accreditation. It implies that the training provider has undergone and withstood a thorough process of examinations and scrutiny.

Unaccredited training companies are known for providing misleading and false information. This emphasizes how essential it is to ensure your training provider is IACET accredited. As one of the few IACET-accredited providers, we are the trusted and leading voice in the HIPAA training industry.

Do healthcare providers require HIPAA certification?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), no. Any regulation does not require you to certify your compliance. There is no standard provision in HIPAA that requires covered entities to obtain a certification of compliance. However, according to 164.308(a)(8), you must regularly assess your HIPAA security procedures' technical and non-technical components to determine how closely their security policies and practices match the security requirements. This can be done internally or externally through a third-party "certification" provider. But as HHS declares: "HHS does not endorse or otherwise recognize private organizations' certifications' regarding the Security Rule, and such certifications do not absolve covered entities of their legal obligations under the Security Rule.

Moreover, the performance of a 'certification' by an external organization does not preclude HHS from subsequently finding a security violation." Be careful not to confuse certification with compliance. You must be compliant, but no certification is required. If the OCR investigates your organization, a HIPAA certificate is meaningless as you will require more than an informal certification for an audit. You must prove what you have done to ensure the proper handling of PHI and show what you are doing to comply with HIPAA regulations in everyday operations.

Is HIPAA training required? 

Obtaining a certification indicates that you have completed a training program that teaches you the provisions of HIPAA and the knowledge to apply it to your organization, even though HIPAA contains no standards for businesses and/or their workforces to justify compliance. After certification, HIPAA compliance is a continuous process. A HIPAA compliance certification earned today does not imply future HIPAA certification.

You should be aware of your legal responsibilities under the Act because security violations may still be detected. Many organizations will turn to third-party compliance professionals to ensure all standards are being followed because HIPAA standards are constantly changing. For more information about HIPAA guidelines, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) website or take a HIPAA Exams course.