Developing a Responsive HIPAA Training Program

Ryan Stephens
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Although it’s been over 20 years since the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted, many healthcare and other organizations that maintain protected health information (PHI) have been falling behind in their compliance efforts. No organization intentionally chooses to violate HIPAA; however, many organizations break the rules because their workforce members are either not familiar with what constitutes a HIPAA breach or are unsure of their role in preventing one. This is why it is essential to develop a responsive HIPAA training program.

In this article, we delve into the need for a responsive and well documented HIPAA training program for workforce members. 

Employee Training

Since the HIPAA regulations are so vast and vague, it can be difficult to comprehend how often and what type of training is required. That being said, employees should be properly trained to prevent possible security breaches and mitigate effects should they occur. Below are some of the best practices organizations can implement to develop a responsive HIPAA training program for their employees.

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Offer annual refresher HIPAA training program

It is mandatory that organizations provide comprehensive HIPAA training once a year that reacquaints current employees with the legislation’s latest essential elements and outlines their roles and responsibilities in preserving data privacy and security. This training is in addition to new employee orientation on the topic. Whenever an individual is hired, he or she must receive HIPAA training within a reasonable period, as part of the overall introduction to the organization. One common mistake many organizations make is having their new staff wait until the annual HIPAA training program to learn about their responsibilities. 

Tailor training according to gap analysis

Several times, we have mentioned the importance of conducting an internal audit and gap analysis to uncover areas of improvement and areas where compliance is weak. This involves a thorough review of current policies and procedures, visual observation of existing operations, and conversation with employees about how they maintain the security of patients’ health information. Using the results of internal audits and gap analysis to tailor your training materials will result in more focused education, which can directly address any issues the organization is facing.

Stimulate information retention

As officials never mention how often training should be provided, many organizations interpret it in their own way. Just having an annual HIPAA training is not sufficient to ensure your organization remains compliant throughout the year. To keep HIPAA at the forefront of staff members’ minds, organizations should develop a responsive training program and offer educational activities quarterly to help staff members retain information and apply it to their daily activities. For example, an organization can survey staff members on various compliance tips and requirements to see if they can correctly answer them. Along with internal audits, these surveys can underline training opportunities.

Role-playing exercises about how to speak with patients are also very effective. For example, someone can pose as a patient and enter the building asking about his or her personal health information. Observers can monitor how staff reacts to the patient and highlight areas of improvement. 

Documentation

Last, but not least is documentation. A good way to establish a rock-solid HIPAA compliance program is to document all the efforts you put forward towards compliance, including risk assessments, training, and vulnerabilities discovered during audits. During an inspection, auditors will also want to see the documentation of training provided to ensure that they are sufficient and up to date with the latest HIPAA standards. 

Develop a responsive training program with HIPAA Ready

Streamlining the HIPAA training process can dramatically reduce administrative burden and workloads. It is always hard to manually keep up with information, such as who has undergone training, who has yet to receive training, setting up the training sessions, etc. With HIPAA Ready, all these complexities can be eliminated.

HIPAA Ready is the best HIPAA compliance software application where you can streamline tasks, such as training, internal audits, incident management, policy management, and much more. Above all, it can be fully customized to your organization’s specific needs. With both the web and mobile applications, users can easily set-up training sessions, assign trainees, log in training details, and establish a robust HIPAA training program effortlessly.

To learn more about how you can simplify your entire HIPAA compliance program, leave a comment below or contact CloudApper.

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