How often must staff receive HIPAA training?

by | Mar 2, 2023

New staff in healthcare organizations must receive mandatory HIPAA training as part of their onboarding process before they begin handling any protected health information (PHI), and for all existing staff, while HIPAA doesn’t specify a precise frequency for training, the common industry best practice is to provide mandatory annual training to ensure employees stay updated on changes in HIPAA regulations, reinforce their understanding, and maintain a culture of privacy and security.

Mandatory HIPAA training begins at the very onset of a healthcare worker’s journey in an organization, as part of their onboarding process. Any new employee, volunteer, intern, or other personnel who will come into contact with PHI must receive HIPAA training before they can start their duties. This training is designed to ensure they fully understand the importance of protecting PHI, the guidelines they must follow, and the consequences of non-compliance.

The onboarding training typically covers topics such as the fundamentals of HIPAA, privacy and security rules, the rights of patients under HIPAA, how to handle PHI in various situations, and how to respond in case of a data breach. Once the new staff member has completed this training, they should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities under HIPAA and be ready to handle PHI in a compliant manner.

For existing staff, retraining is also mandatory. However, HIPAA does not specify a time frame for how frequently this training must occur. Instead, it stipulates that retraining should be conducted whenever there is a change in policies, procedures, or the law. Therefore, whenever HIPAA regulations are updated or the organization’s privacy and security policies change, employees must be retrained to ensure they are up-to-date with these changes.

While retraining in response to changes is necessary, it is not sufficient on its own. Over time, staff may forget certain details of their training or underestimate the importance of HIPAA compliance. To counteract this, it’s crucial to conduct regular refresher training sessions. The best practice in the healthcare industry is to provide this refresher training on an annual basis.

Annual training serves to reinforce the key points of HIPAA compliance, keeps staff updated with the latest HIPAA developments, and continually emphasizes the importance of protecting patient privacy. It also provides an opportunity for staff to ask questions and clarify any points of confusion. Furthermore, regular training sessions can also be tailored to the specific roles and responsibilities of different staff members, ensuring that each individual receives the most relevant training.

In addition to formal training sessions, organizations should also foster a culture of ongoing learning and HIPAA compliance. This can be achieved through regular communication about HIPAA topics, providing resources for self-learning, and encouraging staff to stay informed about HIPAA developments.

While new staff must receive mandatory HIPAA training as part of their onboarding process, training for existing staff is equally important. By providing annual HIPAA training, healthcare organizations can ensure that their staff remain compliant, stay updated on HIPAA developments, and continue to prioritize patient privacy and data security in their everyday work.

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