To most, HIPAA compliance boils down to a simple concept: the security of patient medical information and data. With these guidelines in place, patients expect their medical data will remain private and protected from prying eyes or theft. It is your responsibility, if your company works with protected patient information, to ensure that your employees are properly implementing HIPAA compliant procedures.
A lot goes into designing HIPAA compliance training. While training should be tailored to the individual jobs at hand, there is plenty about HIPAA that every relevant worker should know. If you’re planning a class and need a simple to use HIPAA training kit with an instruction video, lesson plan, PowerPoint Presentation and certification test: we’ve got you covered.
What is HIPAA?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, is a federal law designed to protect patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. HIPAA encompasses not only the original act but several subsequent legislative acts and together they form a vast number of regulatory requirements for a variety of entities.
What industries require HIPAA training?
The simple answer is that HIPAA regulations will apply to Covered Entities and their Business Associates. Basically, anyone who could possibly come in contact with protected health information should receive HIPAA training. This includes more obvious healthcare roles like doctors, nurses, medical receptionists and hospital recordkeepers. However, there are roles outside of the traditional healthcare system who also should be trained in HIPAA regulations.
What is a covered entity?
- Healthcare providers, including but not limited to clinics, hospitals, and private practices for medical, dental, psychological, chiropractic, etc.
- Health insurance providers, including but not limited to health insurance companies, HMOs, company healthcare plans, Medicare and Medicaid.
- This section also includes the staff that handles the sign-up process for employees or students at their company for health plans—oftentimes, these are human resources professionals.
- Healthcare Clearing House
What is a business associate?
Covered entities often work with vendors or subcontractors to handle important tasks like data storage, networking or other information technology services. Other vendors or subcontractors could include companies that provide shredding services of sensitive documents, lawyers, translation services, medical equipment professionals, answering or reception services, consultants.
With those definitions in place, let’s look at what HIPAA says about required training in the regulatory code text. The training section in the Privacy Rule states a covered entity must train all member of its workforce on the policies and procedures as necessary and appropriate. Any covered entity or business associate employee, with potential access to protected health information (PHI), must be provided regular training. The Security Rule states covered entities and business associates must implement a security awareness and training program for all members of its workforce.
What topics should be covered in HIPAA training?
HIPAA takes a somewhat vague approach to training. The law does not give specifics about required training. So, the implementation of specifics of HIPAA requirements are considered “addressable,” which simply means they must be followed but provide covered entities a level of flexibility in how they comply with the standard.
Covered entities must decide whether a given addressable implementation specification is reasonable and appropriate security measures apply within their framework. Their decisions must be documented in writing and the written documentation should include factors considered as well as the results of the risk assessment on which the decision was based.
With that documentation in place, training can be conducted with a “custom-fit” approach. It is important to train employees on many aspects of the HIPAA regulations, but the training does not have to be comprehensive on all topics. Ideally, training should be more about the company policies and procedures to ensure compliance with HIPAA law. Even so, there are some basic HIPAA components which should be covered including the following:
Important HIPAA training topics
- The HIPAA Privacy Rule
- The HIPAA Security Rule
- Patients’ Rights
- Rules on PHI disclosures
- Safeguarding electronic PHI or ePHI
- Preventing HIPAA Violations
- Breach Notifications
- Compliance and Enforcement
There are additional areas on which employees might need training. Ultimately it is up to the covered entity to determine the topics covered and make sure their employees are trained, and compliance with HIPAA is happening.
When should employees receive HIPAA training?
The Privacy Rule states that HIPAA training is required for “each new member of the workforce within a reasonable period of time after the person joins the Covered Entity’s workforce” and also when “functions are affected by a material change in policies or procedures” – again within a reasonable period of time. This implies training should occur the first few days and not months later.
How often is HIPAA training required?
According to the Security Rule, HIPAA training is required periodically. Most covered entities meet this requirement by holding annual training sessions. Annual training helps to protect the employer and employees by ensuring employees are:
- “Refreshed” on HIPAA regulations
- Aware of any policy changes that may have occurred since their last training session
- Knowledgeable about cybercrime and ways to protect against it
While annual training is sufficient to meet HIPAA’s periodic requirements, holding additional training sessions throughout the year is not a bad idea. These other sessions can be shorter and provide quick info to reinforce employee’s knowledge and compliance with HIPAA.
Tips for HIPAA compliance training
An effective HIPAA training program allows employees to participate in the training process and to practice their skills or knowledge. This will help to ensure they are learning the required knowledge or skills. Employees can become involved in the training process by participating in discussions, asking questions, contributing their knowledge and expertise, learning through hands-on experiences, and through role-playing exercises.
Steps can be taken to help ensure employees are attentive and engaged during HIPAA training.
- Keep training sessions under an hour in length. Long training sessions lose the attention of the trainees.
- Keep the employees engaged. Asking questions and encouraging conversation helps to keep employees plugged-in to the training session.
- Keep handouts to a minimum and make sure the ones you hand out are meaningful. Too many handouts will draw the employee’s attention away from what is currently being discussed.
- Include various media for different learning types, including videos, classroom presentations, quizzes and discussion.
- Make HIPAA compliance training simple
HIPAA compliance requires frequent and effective training that gives your employees the tools and knowledge they need to implement these critical guidelines in their everyday work. The best HIPAA training courses will combine interactive elements with classroom lecture and discussion to help your employees learn and implement these crucial guidelines.
Ready to train your employees? NSC makes HIPAA compliance easy. Our all-in-one HIPAA Compliance training course contains everything you need to run a successful class, including a training video developed by industry experts, classroom presentation, supplemental handouts and printable certificates. This course is available on DVD, digital access, or in a self-guided online training course.