HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a piece of legislation that was passed in 1996. It offers patients a wide variety of protections in regard to their health information.
The pressure HIPAA puts on medical professionals has never been greater. This is due to the growth of reliance professionals allocate towards technology to store client health records and the constantly looming threat of data breaches.
That reality is one of the many reasons why HIPAA training requirements are so stringent.
If you’re running a medical, dental or any other practice that falls within the purview of HIPAA you may have a lot of questions in regard to what exactly is required of you.
Below, our team has answers some of the most common HIPAA training related questions.
1. Who is Required to Undergo HIPAA Training?
HIPAA training is required of anyone who has the potential to come into contact with protected health information. Given this broad definition of who needs training, HIPAA training is not only for medically trained staff members.
HIPAA training requirements extend to receptionists, interns, part-time employees and beyond depending on their in-office responsibilities.
So, understand who on your staff is required to handle patient health records. Then, put together a comprehensive list of who legally will require training.
2. How Often Does HIPAA Training Need to Be Conducted?
HIPAA states that organizations need to provide their employees with refreshers on HIPAA guidelines periodically. The term periodically has no definite time frame. Therefore, how often employees at your practice obtain HIPAA refresher training after their initial session will be up to you.
Typically, to avoid costly oversights, most HIPAA covered professions will train employees on an annual basis. This will help remind staff of pre-existing guidelines as well as inform them of new threats.
3. What Topics are Covered During HIPAA Training
A variety of topics need to be covered off during your HIPAA training session in order to be compliant with your legal obligation. These requirements can change from year to year to accommodate changes to medical practices and information technology.
A full list of up to date training requirements can be located on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.
4. After HIPAA Training Has Been Conducted, Is There a Requirement To Keep Proof of Training?
Yes. As with any sort of legal training, you’ll want to have documentation stating that you and your employees have met all requirements. This documentation should be readily accessible in the office in which your HIPAA trained staff work.
HIPAA does not outline specifically what kind of documentation needs to be available in order to meet the obligation of proof of completion.
Generally speaking, you’ll want your proof to contain:
- Dates of training
- Content that was discussed during training
- Names and titles of those that attended training
- Names of the qualified professionals who carried out HIPAA training requirements
Be sure to keep training records as far back as three years if possible. Also, if your practice is sold, make sure that employee training documentation is transferred to the new owner.
5. How Long Does a HIPAA Training Session Last?
There’s no specific time period required when undergoing HIPAA training so length will vary. The important aspect of training is that the content covered is in compliance with what is required during the year your training is being conducted.
Depending on how HIPAA training is broken down, sessions should last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
6. What Are the Repercussions of Not Staying up to Date with HIPAA Training Requirements?
HIPAA can issue a penalty amounting to 1.5 million dollars if any of its guidelines are violated by you or your employees. Furthermore, not protecting patient’s medical records can lead to civil and criminal suits on top of your HIPAA fines.
While battling these suits and fines, if the body handling your case determines that adequate training was neglected, you could face further damages.
7. What Constitutes a HIPAA Violation?
There are many provisions in HIPAA that can be violated resulting in the consequences we outlined above. To give you an idea of what some of the legislation’s core tenants are, below is a list of violation examples.
- Improper disposal of patient medical records
- Releasing patient information incorrectly
- Discussing private information with a patient’s friends and relatives
- Discussing patient medical records in public settings
- Not adequately logging out of a computer housing patient records
- Including private health information in an email sent outside of a secure intranet setting
- Not obtaining patient signatures when required
- The mishandling of a minor’s medical information
The above list is by no means a comprehensive itemization of the ways you may be in violation of HIPAA. It should serve as a good reference however in understanding the importance of quality compliance training.
Wrapping Up HIPAA Training Requirements Questions and Answers
HIPAA is a landmark piece of legislation aimed at the safety and security of patients in a multitude of medical settings. The obligations of your practice under HIPAA are stringent. Consequently, it’s important that you and your staff/colleagues are adequately trained to remain in compliance.
Failure to do so can result in costly fines, lawsuits, and the closure of your medical practice.
Are you looking for an all in one solution to assess your risk of HIPAA violations and mitigate those risks? If so, our team at HIPAA Security Suite can help with your HIPAA training requirements.
We provide multi-faceted solutions to our clients that assess their situation. We provide HIPAA safety documentation and professionally train their employees on HIPAA requirements.
Our team understands that training can be a difficult thing to manage among all of the other stressors your practice is facing. Let us share your burden and help ensure your organization’s longevity and success.