What is HIPAA Training?Greg Garner
If you are interested in a career in the healthcare industry, you’ll likely need to get HIPAA training. Nurses, doctors, and anyone who comes into contact with protected health information must have this training.
But what is HIPAA training?
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a law that made the healthcare system more efficient. HIPAA training is required by law.
What does required by law actually mean? And what are the HIPAA rules?
The thing about HIPAA is that it can be incredibly complicated, vague, and confusing. In this article, we’ll dig into HIPAA’s requirements and goals for a variety of individuals and organizations.
Still wondering exactly what is HIPAA certification, and whether it applies to your particular line of work or business? Keep reading to learn more.
Why Is HIPAA Training Important?
Training is a critical component of HIPAA compliance. It ensures all employees are up to date on what steps to take to guarantee the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI).
Training educates employees on the details of the HIPAA Act. It helps them gain an understanding of their role in compliance.
Without proper compliance training, you could be putting your business at risk.
HIPAA violation fines are no small matter.
The minimum fine for a willful violation of HIPAA Rules is $50,000. The maximum criminal penalty for a HIPAA violation by an individual is $250,000.
You may also need to pay restitution to the victims. In criminal violations, jail terms are also common in addition to fines.
Want to understand the importance of HIPAA training and certification better? Read this article about a health insurer who paid $5.1 million for a data breach that affected 9.3 million people.
Who Should Get HIPAA Training?
HIPAA requires covered entities and businesses that handle protected health information to get trained in HIPAA. HIPAA has both a Privacy Rule and a Security Rule. You’ll find a link to a summary of HIPAA’s Security Rule here.
According to the Privacy Rule, all employees must complete training by their organization’s compliance date. Ideally, every employee should get training soon after getting hired.
Organizations should also provide extra training whenever they have an important policy change. Covered entities should always document training and make sure it meets the standards HIPAA requires.
What Is HIPAA Training
What is HIPAA training, and what standards does HIPAA require?
A certificate of HIPAA compliance is a way for organizations to prove they comply with HIPPA regulations. This certification saves covered entities time when it comes to due diligence.
To be clear, there is no official HIPAA certification process or accreditation. The Department of Health and Human Services doesn’t endorse any certification processes. This is because HIPAA compliance is an ongoing and ever-changing process.
So, watch out for marketing that advertises HIPAA training endorsed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Despite this, companies can claim to be certified as HIPAA compliant. It means they have completed a third-party HIPAA compliance program and adapted their processes to comply.
Since HIPAA is an ongoing process, companies can lose HIPAA compliance over time. In that case, they need to provide more training to return to compliance.
HIPAA requires companies to provide compliance training to employees. Training must be as thorough as is necessary for employees to carry out the functions of their jobs.
The last time the HIPAA Rules got an update was in 2013. This update was the HIPAA Omnibus Rule changes. That might seem like a long time ago, but the rules are about to change again. This article from The HIPAA Journal details the new HIPAA regulations of 2021.
To Whom Do HIPAA’s Training Requirements Apply?
HIPAA requires covered entities and business associates to provide HIPAA training. They must train all employees who handle protected health information. There are different requirements for privacy and security.
How Long Should HIPAA Training Be?
HIPAA doesn’t specify any particular length requirement for training. It recommends that training should be thorough, but that doesn’t mean it needs to take hours.
A lot of training programs go on for too long. They provide a lot of unnecessary information, and employees get bored.
We remember things better when we’re given information in brief chunks. Try an hour of training on privacy one day and an hour on security the next day. This gives your employees time to marinate on what they’ve learned.
How Often Should Training Occur?
Training should first occur when any new employee gets hired. Subsequent training should occur as often as your company updates or changes any of its critical policies.
Reoccurring training helps keep employees up to date on any changes to the HIPAA law. It also keeps employees current on any compliance policies the company has.
Finally, sometimes people forget things they’ve learned. We’re all human, and our memories are not perfect. It’s beneficial to have refresher training for everyone involved.
What Topics Must Training Cover?
HIPAA is intentionally vague about what topics to cover because it varies from employee to employee. Every job requires a different level of interaction with PHI, so every employee needs to know different things.
Some employees may have limited involvement with patients or PHI. It wouldn’t make sense to train these employees on handling patient records. Nor would it make sense to train them in how to notify patients regarding their medical information.
Similarly, business associates aren’t involved in administering patients’ rights. They don’t need to be trained in these practices.
The most common and important HIPAA privacy topics of training include:
- Identifying PHI
- The minimum necessary rule
- The rules about when and how PHI can be disclosed
- The importance of confidentiality
- How to avoid snooping when you have access to PHI
- The need to keep an accounting of disclosures
- Patient rights and authorization
- Basic information about business associate obligations
- The consequences of failing to follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule
The most common and important HIPAA security topics of training include:
- Security awareness and training
- Security reminders and updates
- Malicious software
- Log-in monitoring
- Password management
The HIPAA Security Rule requires training on security topics. Training is not a suggestion. If your organization cannot follow the requirements, you must document the reason. You also need to document the alternative measure you put in place.
Which Employees Require Training Under HIPAA?
Any employees who could come in contact with protected health information are required by law to have training in HIPAA. It is best to be as thorough as possible here and train as many employees as possible.
Benefits of HIPAA Certification
There are many benefits of HIPAA certification. Providing HIPAA training gives you a better understanding of your company’s problem areas. It also ensures better compliance overall.
HIPAA training is one way to demonstrate that your business conducts itself ethically according to the law. It will likely improve your company or organization’s reputation.
HIPAA certification builds trust. The healthcare industry trusts organizations that are HIPAA compliant.
Consequences Of Inadequate HIPAA Training
As intense as this all sounds, there isn’t a direct penalty for inadequate or failure to provide HIPAA training. Training is an important way to protect your company against breaches in PHI.
Security breaches will happen. This is the reality of the technological era we’re living through.
In March 2021, there was a 38.8% increase in reported healthcare data breaches just last month.
When a breach does happen, having complied with HIPAA training will protect you in the event of an audit. You’ll be able to prove that your company complied with the current HIPAA standards and requirements.
If you can’t prove that you’ve provided HIPAA training, your fine for the breach will be much bigger. In these instances, it is clear that you could have prevented the breach.
Failing to provide training on HIPAA compliance can diminish your company’s ethics and impact your standard of care. It has the potential to harm your patients seriously. Even if your employees intend not to harm, they can unknowingly cause harm all the same if they don’t receive HIPAA training.