HIPAA training is a requirement of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and security awareness training is a requirement of the HIPAA Security Rule, so it is essential for HIPAA-regulated entities to provide adequate training to all members of the workforce; however, training should be more than a box-ticking exercise to ensure compliance. There are many benefits that come from having a fully trained workforce that is knowledgeable about HIPAA and security. Here we provide 5 reasons why HIPAA training is important.
1. HIPAA Training Introduces a Common Language Across the Organization
HIPAA training introduces a common language across the organization and helps to ensure that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Training sets a benchmark for all staff members, which they need to be able to work in a HIPAA-compliant way and complete their work duties. Training ensures employees are made aware of the importance of patient privacy, data security, and how to protect both, and helps employees to work efficiently. A lack of knowledge about HIPAA will decrease productivity.
2. Reduces the Risk of Employees Violating HIPAA
HIPAA training is important as employees need to be made aware of their responsibilities under HIPAA and the policies that have been put in place by their employer to ensure compliance. Without training, employees may take shortcuts to improve efficiency, without realizing that working practices have been set to ensure compliance. Rogue employees may knowingly violate HIPAA, but in the majority of cases, HIPAA violations by healthcare employees occur due to a lack of knowledge. By providing training, employees are less likely to make mistakes and accidentally violate HIPAA.
3. Improve Defenses Against Cyberattacks Targeting Employees
Cybercriminals look for and exploit weak links in the defenses of healthcare organizations, and one of the weakest links is the workforce. Humans make mistakes and can be fooled using social engineering techniques into disclosing sensitive information – through phishing emails for instance. According to the 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 82% of data breaches involve the human factor. Through security awareness training, employers can teach security best practices to reduce the potential for mistakes, and train employees how to recognize and avoid cyber threats. Through training, human resilience to cyber threats will be improved and the risk of security mistakes will be reduced.
4. Avoid Subpoenas, Litigation, and Regulatory Penalties
The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights investigates data breaches and complaints and has stepped up its enforcement activities in recent years. There is now a very real risk that a violation of HIPAA will lead to a significant financial penalty for noncompliance. It is increasingly common for multiple lawsuits to be filed on behalf of patients following a data breach or HIPAA violation or for a subpoena to be issued. The cost of fines and litigation is bad enough, but it is the reputational damage that often causes the most harm. Training will significantly reduce the risk of HIPAA violations and the costs associated with them.
5. Training Fosters Trust
Patients seeking medical assistance need to disclose sensitive information about their bodies. Physicians and nurses need to be provided with that information to make an accurate diagnosis and decide on the most appropriate treatment. Disclosing sensitive information can put patients in a position of vulnerability, especially if they have to disclose sensitive information that could cause them harm if known to others. Patients are more likely to be honest and open if they believe their healthcare provider is able to keep their information private and confidential. HIPAA training can help to ensure that all members of the workforce understand and follow standard privacy practices.