The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is one of the most comprehensive, wide-ranging pieces of legislation that affects the health care system of the United States. HIPAA is a series of regulations enforced by the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) to modernize and protect the flow of health information.
HIPAA compliance is paramount as it entails the safeguarding of sensitive information called protected health information (PHI). This includes insurance information, demographic data, medical histories, test results, and other data that can be used to identify the patient.
Naturally, the privacy and security of any health-related information becomes a major concern when countless people require access to a person’s PHI. From healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses to third-party organizations like pharmacies and researchers, PHI passes through many hands.
There are also financial consequences to consider. HIPAA fines range from $100 to $50,000 per incident and failing to address HIPAA can cause financial issues for businesses.
Given its apparent importance, companies should actively conduct security risk assessments to protect data. However, it has been estimated that only 18% of companies have carried out proper safeguarding procedures over the last 12 months. While 70% of companies have experienced data breaches over the same time period.
This rise in data breaches creates a challenge for companies and healthcare providers. Fortunately, this can be solved by HIPAA certification programs that monitor compliance and provide training.
Achieving the minimum standards required for data security and patient privacy is what HIPAA certification ensures. It guarantees that organizations have been guided by HIPAA to implement the required policies and procedures.
While the HSS does not endorse any certification program, HIPAA certification retains its importance. Companies and their workers benefit from programs designed to ensure HIPAA compliance. Certification also signals that an organization’s services have met HIPAA standards.
The different types of HIPAA certification include:
HIPAA compliance addresses the fulfillment and satisfaction of HIPAA regulatory standards. It entails that PHI is handled by organizations that have the proper physical, network, and process security measures in place.
HIPAA regulation consists of several rules instituted over 20 years. Some significant HIPAA Rules include following:
Unlike HIPAA certification, HIPAA training is mandated as an Administrative Requirement of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and an Administrative Safeguard of the HIPAA Security Rule. These rules stipulate that it is crucial to adhere to HIPAA requirements. Violations may result in criminal indictments and high fines for noncompliance.
HIPAA requirements are highly complex and easily confusing, therefore applying for HIPAA training is important.
What is included in these awareness and training programs are specific to the role of each individual that has contact with PHI. No specific HIPAA training requirements exist but a basic training course should include the following:
Additionally, to ensure relevance to trainees and effectiveness in execution, such programs will be compiled into multiple sessions instead of only one six-hour session. This is because only one session is likely to be ineffective in fitting every element of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.
Named OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, this agency under the United States Department of Labor regulates health and safety in the workplace. They do this by setting and enforcing standards as well as providing training, education, and assistance.
There is an intersection of interests between OSHA and HIPAA regulations as both deal with PHI. OSHA’s Recordkeeping Requirement mandates certain illnesses or injuries be recorded or reported.
When circumstances or exposure in the workplace cause or contribute to the development of a condition or negatively affect a pre-existing condition it is considered a work-related illness or injury.
If the following events are caused by work-related injury or illness, OSHA regulations specify it should be reported:
Additionally, cases that involve fractured or cracked bones, cancer, a punctured eardrum, or chronic irreversible diseases must also be recorded.