HIPAA Training And Certification: Why Is It Important?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA in short, was signed into law in 1996 for the purpose of setting standards in the security of healthcare information. It’s an act that aims to provide organizations a guideline to ensure that all protected health information (PHI) is safe from concerns like theft and fraud, which may harm patients or the organization. 

The intent behind the HIPAA is certainly imposing, but it’s worth noting that getting a certification or undergoing training isn’t required by the law or the act itself. Nevertheless, you’ll still find a few organizations and healthcare practitioners engaging in either or both of these two. Hence, you’re probably wondering whether a HIPAA certificate and training are important in any way. 

This guide will go over some reasons that drive these entities to undergo HIPAA training and examination despite not being a requirement set by federal law. 

1. Healthcare Workers Are Susceptible To Errors 

Due to the complexity of the HIPAA, there are countless opportunities for a worker to make mistakes, even more so if they didn’t go through training. Below are a few examples of such scenarios:

  • Telling your friend or a relative a story about a patient while including sensitive information such as name, address, age, and occupation, among others
  • Snapping a photo inside the healthcare facility and posting it on any social media platform
  • Sharing patient information that hasn’t been confirmed yet
  • Talking about a patient with your coworkers in a public place
  • Writing or typing the name of a patient in an official document incorrectly

These scenarios violate the guidelines comprising the HIPAA, yet they’re likely seen as normal occurrences by many people. Hence, many medical workers violate the HIPAA without intending to. By sending new workers to HIPAA training and encouraging them to take an examination and get their certification, organizations can potentially reduce the possibility of violations.

2. HIPAA Regulations Constantly Change 

As the industry continues to change, so do the regulations surrounding them. It’s one of the responsibilities of healthcare entities to adapt to these, no matter how difficult it may be. On the bright side, HIPAA courses constantly change as well. 

Simply put, by undergoing HIPAA training regularly and getting the corresponding certification, you can easily keep up with the annual changes in HIPAA regulations. Furthermore, by engaging yourself in this training or coursework, you’re essentially equipping yourself with relevant knowledge and skills to achieve HIPAA compliance.

3. Violations Can Be Costly 

At first glance, the HIPAA doesn’t seem too strict with its policies, but the amount you have to pay for each violation is nothing to scoff at. Here’s an overview of different offenses and their charges: 

  • If the organization wasn’t aware of the violation and there was nothing they could’ve done to know about it, the fines will range from USD$100 to USD$50,000 per breach. 
  • If the organization was aware or should’ve been aware of the violation, the fines will range from USD$1,000 to USD$50,000 per breach. 
  • If the organization was aware of the violation and did it anyway but corrected the problem within a month, the fines will range from USD$10,000 to USD$50,000 per breach. 
  • If the organization was aware of the violation and did nothing to resolve the problem within a month, the fines will range from USD$50,000 to USD$1,500,000 per breach. 

Apart from the financial repercussions of HIPAA violations, the organization may also have its name listed in the Wall of Shame. For your reference, the Wall of Shame is a list of healthcare facilities that violated the HIPAA. It shows the violation, the date it was made, and the number of individuals affected by such violation. This means if you ever violate the act, you’re pretty much done for. Since HIPAA courses reduce the susceptibility to errors, it makes sense why many organizations deem it important.

4. Medical Information Are Valuable In The Dark Web 

Over the past few years, medical information has become a lot more valuable on the dark web, with prices reaching as high as USD$1,000. Therefore, a lot of cybercriminals have set their eyes on the medical industry. While there are several ways to protect medical information, complying with HIPAA is perhaps the most effective method there is. Not only does it secure PHI digitally, but it also safeguards documents that contain confidential patient information. 

Final Words 

The law doesn’t require healthcare entities to undergo HIPAA training and obtain certifications, but it doesn’t mean there’s no merit in doing so. Not only does it minimize the financial risks on your organization, but it also helps patients by ensuring them their information is in safe hands. HIPAA training and certification aren’t required, but they might as well be, considering their potential benefits.

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