Updated: Mar 17
Back in 1996, when HIPAA was first introduced, many healthcare organizations sough to create a HIPAA Manual to provide a consolidated resource that would assist employees in understanding and adhering to HIPAA requirements as they performed their job roles. However, as HIPAA has seen drastic revisions and additions over the years, the value of a HIPAA manual has decreased as other approaches to employee HIPAA training have gained favor.
The Importance of HIPAA Compliance
HIPAA outlines requirements that protect and secure health information. The regulation was divided into two rules, the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information (Privacy Rule) and the Security Standards for the Protection of Electronic Protected Health Information (Security Rule). When combined, these rules set forth explicit standards for how companies should manage protected health information (PHI), in order to protect patients’ health records and their personal information. In addition, HIPAA seeks to protect the organizations that handle PHI as it calls for essential protections that help guard against potential breaches of PHI or other exposures that could put the organization, its staff, and its patients at risk.
Changes to HIPAA Compliance Requirements
In the two decades since HIPAA was first introduced, its rules and regulations have undergone dramatic changes and expansion. The most significant changes were introduced in the forms of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, the Breach Notification Rule, the Omnibus Rule, and the HITECH Act. Each of these rules and regulations include their own implementation standards. As these changes to the regulation have continued, many healthcare organizations have shifted their approach to compliance from the simple creation of a HIPAA manual to a more comprehensive approach to compliance that both outlines employee HIPAA responsibilities and trains them (on an ongoing basis) on the HIPAA compliant execution of their job duties.
Building an Effective HIPAA Compliance Plan
While HIPAA compliance plans will vary among healthcare organizations, depending on the type of company, its size, the manner in which they handle PHI, and other factors. Even so, there are a set of standard HIPAA policies and procedures that must be implemented in any organization that needs to comply with HIPAA.
Here are five steps to consider as you look to implement a HIPAA Compliance Plan for your organization:
Choose a Privacy and Security Officer
The Privacy Officer will be responsible for the development and supervision of privacy policies and procedures concerning the safe utilization and management of PHI. The Security Officer will manage the ongoing supervision of information security policies, procedures, and systems.
Conduct a Risk Assessment and Develop a Security Management Process
Evaluate and document your operations for potential risks and vulnerabilities. Thoroughly inspect all computers, mobile devices, hard copy records, storage of records, and additional security measures to confirm that all PHI is being stored, utilized, and disseminated properly and securely. Perform risk assessments after a PHI breach or theft and after any following a significant change in hardware or software.
Develop and Deploy Policies and Procedures
Employ policies and procedures to control and minimize HIPAA risks. Explicitly document all policies and procedures and make them available to staff members. Review and revise policies and procedures on a regular basis.
Train Your Staff on HIPAA Regulations and Organizational Policies
Develop and deploy and effective HIPAA training program to ensure that all workers who encounter PHI are aware of the risks, policies and procedures regarding the handling of PHI.
Perform Regular Monitoring and Updating of Your Organization’s Security Measures
How eLearning is Replacing the HIPAA Manual
Given the complexity of worker responsibilities with regard to HIPAA regulations, HIPAA training for employees has emerged as a preferable approach (rather than the simple dissemination of a HIPAA Manual) to help build organizational awareness and help workers to understand their roles and responsibilities with regard to HIPAA and the safeguarding of PHI.
eLearning, in particular, has become a cornerstone of employee training for HIPAA for a number of (compelling) reasons:
eLearning reduces (or in many cases even eliminates) many of the most significant expenses associated with classroom-based training, such as travel, on-site instructor and venue fees, meals, and the distribution of printed HIPAA training materials. In addition, eLearning eliminates lost productivity costs by allowing workers to perform their HIPAA training activities during breaks or after hours.
Unlike classroom-based training, eLearning provides your staff with a level of convenience that supports a productive learning experience. With eLearning, your staff is able to perform their training activities at any time and from any place they choose. All that is required is an Internet connection (and some eLearning activities can even be performed offline).
One of the unfortunate challenges of classroom-based training is the fact that all of the students must keep up with the pace set by the instructor. eLearning eliminates this challenge by allowing students to learn at their own pace. They can even revisit challenging or important learning sections multiple times before moving on to the next section.
Communication and Collaboration
Many eLearning platforms now offer tools for online communication among students or between students and instructors. These tools help support a more productive learning environment and can streamline the student feedback process.
eLearning makes it easy to capture important data regarding student engagement and success. The analysis of this data can be very valuable as you work to revise, expand, and improve your HIPAA training program over time.
LMS Portals for HIPAA eLearning
LMS Portals provides a cloud-based platform for corporate eLearning management. The system allows you to quickly and easily develop and deliver your HIPAA eLearning program and includes supporting tools for online communication. reporting, and feedback.
Contact us to discuss running your HIPAA Training