HIPAA Training Requirements – Wondering how to get more by doing less?

Ryan Stephens
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When it comes to compliance issues, such as HIPAA, you cannot afford not to train your employees. In most cases, employees don’t break the law intentionally. Oftentimes, lapses in compliance occur because an employee may not understand a rule, or how it applies to their work, or the training process may be too complicated. Given how difficult it is to understand the onus of HIPAA compliance, this article will explain the requirements of HIPAA training.  

HIPAA is a vast piece of legislation with extensive training requirements, and often they are the source of confusion for many employers. Whom do they apply to? Do business associates need to undergo HIPAA training? What topics must be covered in HIPAA training? How often should employees be trained?

Officials have only provided answers to some of the questions above. In some ways, HIPAA provides more specific guidelines about what the training requirements are than many other laws. But in other ways, the HIPAA training requirements are open to interpretation. From a compliance standpoint, both the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule have different training requirements. 

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What do the Rules say about training?

Within the HIPAA Privacy Rule, training must be completed by each member of the workforce by the organization’s compliance date, with each new member receiving the training within a reasonable time from their joining date. Also, additional training should be implemented by organizations in case there is an update or change in the policy. During the process, covered entities must document that the training has been provided and meets the required standards.

The HIPAA Security Rule, on the other hand, states that a covered entity or a business associate should implement a “Security Training and Awareness” program that addresses security reminders, procedures for protection from malicious software, procedures for monitoring log-ins, and password management. However, the law allows flexibility for organizations to use discretion to meet their security needs because each of the training topics is considered as “addressable” rather than “required”.

What types of organizations are required to complete HIPAA training?

The federal law requires that both covered entities and business associates provide HIPAA training to all employees who have access to protected health information (PHI). This means that even small physician’s offices are required to provide training to their staff members. Business associates and their subcontractors, nurses, doctors, or anyone who could come into contact with PHI during the course of their job should be trained in the protocols of HIPAA.

How often should training be conducted?

This is where most people get confused as the law does not outline specific guidelines and therefore, it is open to interpretation. The best approach is to have employees trained regularly so that they can be up-to-date to account for changes in the company policy or the law. Regular training also helps refresh the mind of the employees in case they have forgotten something. Although, the industry requirement is to conduct HIPAA training once a year so that updates in the law can be included and employees do not forget any vital information.

How can you simplify the HIPAA training requirements?

Given how difficult it can become to manage several aspects of a business along with maintaining HIPAA compliance, it is important to have these training sessions streamlined. With HIPAA Ready, employers can streamline the training process using the web as well as mobile devices. 

The application allows managers or administrators to add new training courses, assign a trainee, set-up training sessions, and create details of the training effortlessly. Employees can access all the instructions from their mobile devices to ensure they’ve completed and are up to date on all the necessary training and information as required.

Through the web-based application, administrators or managers can oversee the training sessions that have been logged by end-users and manage which employees have completed training and which employees still need to undergo training.

Training is a key component of HIPAA compliance as it enables all the parties to be up-to-date on what steps need to be taken to ensure the privacy and security of PHI. Training educates employees on the onus of the act and helps them gain a better understanding of their role in the organization’s compliance efforts. HIPAA Ready’s goal is to break down this complex and vague law into an easy to follow framework through a robust HIPAA compliance management application. 

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