Does your healthcare facility provide services that require your employees to access and/or 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, they should refer to its Security Rule.
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, include critical points such as how to keep covered entities and business associates up to date 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 such as by talking to someone out of their organization about a patient or posting any work-related content on social media.
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 their staff are 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:
- 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.
- It 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 penalties.
- It helps keep patients safe
Properly training healthcare staff significantly reduces the risk of errors that may lead patients' private data to be leaked. Moreover, staff who are trained to deal with a possible breach would know to report it immediately to mitigate damage.
- It helps gain patients' trust
Data breaches that compromise PHI can tarnish the reputation of healthcare providers. Additionally, patients will lose trust and confidence in institutions that can't keep their private information safe.
- It 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.