Patient Privacy Comes First: The Importance of HIPAA Compliance Training

The Importance of HIPAA Compliance Training

Duty of care to patients is not just about ensuring they receive appropriate treatment. It’s also about their privacy.

All patients have a right to this. People need to be sure any sensitive information they share is not going to enter the public domain.

It’s serious stuff because privacy breaches are not only damaging for the patient involved. They can lead to painful lawsuits and cause a reduction in confidence for everyone. This is why HIPAA compliance training is so important.

Let’s dive into the specifics.

The Purpose of the Law

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a U.S. federal law which began in 1996. It started out as a way to simplify aspects of healthcare, and to reduce costs. It is this law that protects patient privacy and security.

HIPAA training ensures that employees understand what their legal obligations are.

There’s more to HIPAA compliance than just passwords and software protection. If your business handles personal information such as health records, then it is required by law to protect that information.

It follows that any business needs to ensure its employees understand how to do this.

HIPAA Compliance Training for Staff

Any member of staff who deals with health information has to receive HIPAA compliance training This is not an option, it’s a legal rule.

The obvious professionals are doctors, nurses, and medical administrators, but the rule includes all others who handle patient information. The net goes further than surgeries and hospitals.

There are certain companies where HIPAA compliance training is required. These include those that provide employer group health plans and health insurance companies. It also encompasses intermediaries such as healthcare clearinghouses.

The Legal Obligations

It is mandatory for some organizations to give HIPAA compliance training to their staff. It is up to the company to find out if the rules apply to them.

Ignorance is no defense, and it doesn’t matter how small the establishment is.

That means a physician who only employs one administrative worker still has to meet the HIPAA training regulations.

The Frequency of HIPAA Training

HIPAA training for employees has to be offered to all employees “periodically.” Clearly, this is open to interpretation. The idea is to make sure that all employees are confident and up-to-date with the latest practices.

The most sensible approach is to provide annual HIPAA training. Regulations can change. There’s a responsibility to make sure employees are up-to-date on all the latest rules.

Key Training Issues

HIPAA compliance training begins with establishing the type of info in need of protection. Sensitive patient health information would come under this heading.

Social media means that it’s possible to spread this kind of information far more quickly. Patients want to know that their own personal medical issues are only shared on a need-to-know basis.

There’s a security issue here, too. That’s because of medical identity theft. This can happen when a patient’s medical history is stolen and used for false insurance claims.

This costs the health industry billions of dollars every year.

The majority of employees do not want to share patient information in an unlawful way. Problems can happen, though, if they do it by accident. This is when training can help to mitigate the risks.

Understanding E-PHI

Information tends to be stored in databases rather than paper files. HIPAA training explains the best practices. This includes accessing and logging off from these types of online storage units.

HIPAA compliance training is required to show employees how to handle electronic PHI. PHI is short for Patient Health Information. Employees need to ensure the confidentiality of any e-PHI they create.

Organizations also have a role here. They need to have taken reasonable steps to avoid any potential threats to the security or integrity of the information.

Anticipating Problem Areas

There also needs to be other protections. This includes providing safeguards against disclosures of information which could be reasonably anticipated.

This area of HIPAA compliance covers any type of electronic transmission, which means emails. It also encompasses any in-house communications which include patient records or data. These can be held on a private server, for example.

Employers have a duty to assess their HIPAA-compliant security and privacy protocols. They are required to make sure that they are implemented.

The expectation is that this a continuous process. This helps to spot any weaknesses in security and privacy. They can then be fixed as quickly as possible.

Important Steps to Take

A lot of compliance issues are common sense. People who work under the HIPAA umbrella are likely to already have a feel for the issues involved.

Many companies could already have HIPAA-compliant practices in place without even realizing it. Nonetheless, a lot can be done to make sure all the t’s are crossed and i’s dotted.

All companies should be continually evaluating their own privacy and security systems. This includes online security, emails, and regular security assessments.

HIPAA is not just a box-ticking exercise. It’s there to protect patients and staff.

Effective HIPAA Compliance Training

HIPAA compliance training enables individuals to be more involved in their own care. It can also offer helpful suggestions. This includes how health care providers can integrate elements of HIPAA.

To be effective, all employees with access to PHI need to be properly trained. Training should cover areas such as demographic information and medical history. It should also include test and laboratory results, along with insurance information.

Training needs to cover implementing PHI safeguards with formal documentation and controls. Finally, larger organizations might need to go a step further. They could need to train a compliance officer to take responsibility for all HIPAA issues.

Make Sure You Have It Covered

It doesn’t matter if you’re a medical organization or an individual. You must make sure you understand the law related to your area of expertise. That starts with complying with the rules around privacy and security.

HIPAA compliance training is an essential part of this process.

Read more here about inexpensive security tips for businesses of all sizes.

HIPAA and Cyber Security Awareness Employee Training

CFISA’s HIPAA and Cyber Security Awareness Employee Training course combines HIPAA compliance lessons and Cyber Security Awareness Training. This powerful training tool not only educates your employees on PHI requirements and stated law, it also expands their knowledge of best practices of how to reduce risk and protect your organization from cyber threats.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to protect your employees and your business from HIPAA violations and other data breaches, contact CIFSA today at (561) 325-6050 to learn how we can help.

Founded by former Secret Service Agent and Deputy Director of the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Levin, The Center for Information Security Awareness(CFISA) is designed to help businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions empower their employees to fight cybercrimes. We provide personalized, engaging, compliant, and affordable training in PCI-DSS, HIPAA, InfraGard Awareness, and Cyber Security Awareness.

Remember, no matter how big or small your company is, and how well the back doors to your system are barricaded, one employee click on the wrong link, attachment, or website could open the front door. CIFSA trains your employees on the best practices to avoid potentially catastrophic data breaches. Call us today at (561) 325-6050 to learn how we can help.