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What is HIPAA Training?

Parker Byrd

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Probability and Accountability Act 1996. It is a federal law that includes the standards to protect sensitive information related to patient health. It prohibits the disclosure of such information without the consent of patients. This act is further divided into two rules that are HIPAA Security Rule and HIPAA Privacy Rule. 

HIPAA Privacy Rule

It deals with the privacy concerns of individuals' health information. The privacy rule went into effect on April 14, 2003. It addresses the use and disclosure of this information (protected health information PHI). PHI may include patients' demographics, physical or mental health conditions, patient's payment details, or any kind of patient's medical record. This information is used only by individuals or organizations authorized by patients which are also called covered entities (CEs). The patients have the right to control the use of their information and protect their well-being.

HIPAA Security Rule 

This rule was made to protect the health information of patients that present as electronic data. This rule went into effect on April 21, 2005. It includes all the identifiable health information which are created by a covered entity, received, and transmitted in an electronic form. Such type of protected information is also known as electronically protected health information (e-PHI). 

The HITECH Act 2010

HITECH is an acronym of The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health. It is a subset of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009. It was made to promote the adoption of secure use of health information technology. This act expands HIPAA privacy rule requirement to business associates (BAs) who will now be required to report to the covered entities. 

Omnibus Rule 2013

It is another regulation that affects HIPAA Privacy and security rule and HITECH. It implements new regulations.

Breach Notification Rule

This rule states that covered entities and business associates are required to notify about a breach within 60 days after its discovery. 

What does HIPAA protect?

HIPAA protects different types of patient’s data. Written documents and all paper records including; prescriptions, X-ray, referral forms, encounter forms, progress notes, charts, etc.), Spoken, or verbal information including; in-person discussion, phone calls, voice mail messages.

Electronic database or any electronic information that includes research information, photographic images, audio or video recordings, patients protected health information stored on a computer, smartphone, memory card, USB drive, or any other electronic device. 

HIPAA also involves the protection of computer hardware or electronic devices that contain protected health information in any form i.e., computer, laptops, PDAs, pagers, fax machines, servers, smartphones, etc. 

What is the importance of HIPAA training?

There are many different types of covered entities and business associates that are involved in creating, receiving, analyzing, and transmitting the patient’s health information. So, HIPAA training is mandatory and required for the individuals and organizations which are dealing with patient’s health information. This training is necessary for all workforce in a healthcare organization to avoid any kind of breach of sensitive patient information. 

HIPAA privacy and security training is important for individuals and organizations. It outlines the ways to prevent any accidental and intentional misuse of protected health information. Whenever an individual or organization comes in contact with a patient's information or any kind of protected health information (PHI), they become involved with some facet of regulations.

It is the requirement of the privacy and security rule to train ourselves and the employees. The training is important to ensure the understanding of HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. It facilitates secure PHI with minimal impact to staff, business processes, and organization. The employees must be well trained and committed to managing electronically protected health information as it is their responsibility to keep it confidential. 

Generally, it is thought that HIPAA protects patient's privacy and security. However, HIPAA training not only protects the patients' rights but also empowers the employees. Because if your company handles sensitive information about your clients then you are required by law to protect this information. The more you are compliant with HIPAA the more trust your organization will earn. This training will also show your efforts towards keeping your client’s information secretive.

The HIPAA training should be made mandatory for the employees. Continuous refresher training programs should also be provided annually. It will help to revise the training content periodically and update your employee about the new rules and regulations. 

What should the training include?

There is no specified training material and duration provided by HIPAA. However, HHS has provided the training resources which can help to design the training course. The training should include the topics according to your work and exposure to the PHI. Some topics that the training must contain are discussed below.

What should we protect?

The training should educate the trainees that what is protected under HIPAA. It should identify all the sensitive patient health information (PHI) which comes under HIPAA.

Why are we protecting PHI?

The training should also provide the reasons for protecting PHI. The employees should know that it is always the patient’s choice to share their information or not. Sometimes medical identity theft may also occur due to a breach of PHI. Someone can use the medical identity of a patient and can submit false Medicaid or Medicare claims. It can lead to financial loss for taxpayers and can also disrupt quality care.

How can we protect PHI?

The training also must include what the law tells us about protecting the information. CEs or BAs should make efforts by ensuring the confidentiality, availability, integrity, of all ePHI they create, maintain or transmit. They should identify and protect ePHI against anticipated security or integrity threats. Any anticipated, impermissible uses or disclosures of ePHI should also be protected. Compliance with HIPAA should be ensured by the workforce. 

Employers should evaluate their HIPAA-compliant security and privacy training protocols and ensure their implementation. Risk assessments should also be performed. It will help to identify their weaknesses so that they can address and rectify them. The ultimate goal of HIPAA compliance training is to protect your patient and also fulfill the regulatory requirements. HIPAA training and annual refreshers can help you to achieve this goal and keep your employees up to date. 


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