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How do I get a HIPAA compliance certificate – And why do I need it?

A HIPAA Compliance certificate isn’t just about knowing the healthcare law. It’s about knowing how valuable patient health information, or the PHI, is, and what you can do to protect this information.

For a healthcare worker, protecting patient information is one of the core everyday activities. You must understand your firm’s policies and procedures that relate to patient PHI usage, sharing, and disclosure. These policies and procedures form the base of all healthcare activities. This includes, how you use, store, share, and disclose the patient information. 

The federal law has strict guidelines for the above mentioned activities. The HIPPA privacy and security rules govern how patient information is used for the above activities. There are strict guidelines governing the usage, sharing and disclosure of patient information. If you are working in healthcare, you must have a thorough understanding of how HIPAA applies to you. And, how your activities affect the safety and availability of patient information.

Why do I need a HIPAA compliance certificate?

When working for a healthcare firm, you would come across all sorts of patient health information. Much of it, such as a patient health status, medications, treatment history, and health plan are classified as protected. Under HIPAA, there are 18 identifiers that qualify as protected health information. The HIPAA privacy and security rules have strict guidelines in place for the security and protection of such information. 

If an organization is found non-compliant with HIPAA, it could lead to heavy fines or penalty, and even jail time.

Such fines and penalties can be avoided only by having strong security measures in place. You need to have technical, administrative, and physical safeguards for protecting patient information. Employee training is one such measure, and it’s mandatory under HIPAA. HIPAA training is all about understanding HIPAA, how it applies to your job, and the do’s and don’ts of working with patient health information. 

As per the privacy rule, HIPAA training is compulsory for everyone whose everyday activities may bring them in contact with protected health information. So, whether you work for a healthcare provider, a business associate, or a consultant, you need to attend a HIPAA training. This includes doctors, nurses, people working in a physician’s office, and even subcontractors, such as janitorial services and mail delivery clerks. 

How do I get a HIPAA compliance certificate?

To become a HIPAA compliant professional, you’ll have to learn about: 

  1. Company policies and procedures of dealing with protected health information. 
  2. Information security standards, and how to detect, report, and prevent security incidents.
  3. Changes to HIPAA rule and regulations.

And, you must learn the ways to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of the PHI that crosses your desk. Along with this information, you should also know how to identify and report incidents that could lead to a HIPAA violation. 

What’s even more important is – how you get yourself trained, and the training program that you use for your training. 

Ensure adequate training

Too many training programs talk only about HIPAA as a law, and its language and the provisions. But, much of the information doesn’t help with everyday activities. A 4-hour long course may look good. You may even be able to get a HIPAA compliance certificate, but it won’t help in the long run. 

As per HIPAA, your training should be about your firm’s policies and procedures with regard to the patient health information that you deal with.

The best solution, then, is to use a training program chunked into smaller training courses. 

Every worker has a limited role, and their exposure to patient health information also differs as per their duties. 

Consider the following three healthcare jobs and their training needs: 

  • Hospital receptionists have more need to know about the physical security of her work desk than to learn about breach reports. 
  • Data analysts with a business associate have no need to know about a covered entity’s policies and procedures. 
  • Office electricians or janitors, with no access to PHI, may only need training on HIPAA basics and office access control. 

As per the Health and Human Services, HIPAA rules are flexible enough to cover all types and sizes of healthcare organizations. So, there cannot be one standardized program for all healthcare professionals. 

What you need is a training that digs into the HIPAA issues that you would come across at work, such as  

  • The errors and mistakes that could lead to the mishandling of PHI. 
  • How to protect the PHI if an error occurs.
  • How to report a security incident.
  • How to document your actions. 
  • Fines and penalties.

It should teach you how not to get caught off guard at work, and if you do end up making a mistake, how to handle it intelligently, and report it before the error causes irreparable damage. 

Selecting a training vendor

Here are two questions that you should ask yourself before you buy a HIPAA training program:

  • What you need to know about the law, and
  • How the HIPAA privacy and security rule apply to your work. 

Ask your training vendor this one question – “What am I supposed to do to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the patient information that crosses my desk?” 

The program should be able to drill into you every action that you must take to protect the health information of your client. 

In conclusion

If you are in healthcare, ensuring HIPAA Compliance should be your top priority. And, HIPAA training is the first step towards that goal. Be really careful when you select a HIPAA training program. Patient health information is an important asset – your vigilance, or lack of it, could cost a human life.

If you have any trouble in deciding which HIPAA training program suits your job role, or what HIPAA topics you should get trained upon. Please share it with us in the comment section below. I am sure that our readers would be more than happy to share their opinion with you.

Jessica Holland

Jessica Holland

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