Does your healthcare facility provide services that require your employees to access and disclose a patient's protected health information (PHI)? If so, you should know the importance of complying with the regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).
What Is HIPAA Compliance Training?
HIPAA is a federal law that establishes standards designed to prevent PHI from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge. Healthcare organizations should refer to HIPAA's Privacy Rule to identify which entities are covered, what data is protected, and how PHI can be used and disclosed. To know what safeguards must be implemented to protect PHI, the HIPAA Security Rule is your number one place to start.
Any person or institution with access to PHI is required by law to undergo HIPAA compliance training to ensure the security and confidentiality of PHI. In developing your healthcare organization's HIPAA compliance training program, you want to cover all critical points, like how your organization keeps covered entities and business associates updated with any changes in HIPAA regulations and requirements.
Why Is HIPAA Compliance Training Important?
PHI contains confidential information that cybercriminals or malicious insiders can use to commit identity theft, fraud, extortion, or sell on the dark web. Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals and third-party providers fail to realize the many ways they may be committing a HIPAA violation.
💡 Did you know that talking to someone out of your organization about a patient, or posting any work-related content on social media, can actually be a HIPAA violation? Read more on HIPAA violations.
Violating HIPAA regulations is a punishable offense that can cost healthcare providers thousands or even millions of dollars in financial penalties and lawsuits. This is why healthcare organizations must do everything they can to ensure that staff is well-trained on how to handle PHI; specifically how, when, and where PHI should be used and disclosed.
Aside from complying with HIPAA regulations, there are other reasons why compliance training is crucial, including constant change, fines, patient safety, patient trust, and liability concerns.
HIPAA regulations and requirements are constantly changing.
As technology evolves, so do the laws surrounding how it should be used in healthcare facilities. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers resorted to telemedicine to continue providing care for their patients. Because of this, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued the Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications, which encouraged healthcare providers to use only HIPAA-compliant video conferencing tools.
Conducting regular compliance training will ensure healthcare professionals are up to date with the latest news and changes regarding HIPAA regulations. This will help reduce the chances of human error, which is a major cause of a data breach.
HIPAA compliance training prevents costly fines.
HIPAA violations come at a steep price. Healthcare institutions and business associates found guilty of violating HIPAA regulations can be fined up to one million dollars and face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Regular compliance training greatly reduces the probability of healthcare workers and third-party providers failing to follow HIPAA-mandated protocols when handling PHI, thereby avoiding violations and their associated penalties.
Training helps keep patients safe - even when it comes to security training.
Properly training healthcare staff significantly reduces the risk of errors that may lead to patients' private data being leaked. Moreover, staff who are trained to deal with a possible breach know to report it immediately and as a result, mitigate the damage.
HIPAA training helps gain patients' trust.
Data breaches that compromise PHI can tarnish the reputation of healthcare providers. If a patient doesn't feel like their personal health information is being kept safe, how can they be expected to trust in the ability of the organization to provide best-in-class healthcare?
Compliance training minimizes organizational and executive liability.
HIPAA compliance training also protects healthcare organizations and information security officers from being held liable if PHI is compromised due to the lack of compliance training.
Every healthcare provider wants to avoid violating HIPAA rules and incurring penalties. By having a well-developed compliance training program, they fulfill the requirements of the law and ensure a smooth-running healthcare business.
Complying with all the HIPAA regulations can be complicated and tricky, which is why compliance training is vital for all healthcare organizations. If your organization needs help with HIPAA compliance, partner with a trusted managed IT services provider like Charles IT. Our HIPAA assessment services will ensure your institution adheres to the latest HIPAA requirements and regulations. Call us now to learn more.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in April 2021 and has been updated for accuracy and readability.