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HIPAA Training Programs: FAQ's

Apr 08, 2010

It is hard enough to train a new employee to answer phones, but is it MUCH harder to educate staff on how to comply with federal HIPAA laws, so why not consider HIPAA training programs. Here we answer some FAQ's about HIPAA training and why it's so important.

1. What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996, and its greatest effect was to implement regulations protecting patients' private healthcare information from unauthorized use and distribution, and it sets standards for the electronic exchange and handling of information that could identify the patient. It affects everything from placing patient charts on the exam room door to leaving mobile computer monitors in hallways. The law can even dictate the kind of information a nurse leaves on a patient's answering machine.

2. What are HIPAA training programs?

HIPAA training programs educate healthcare organizations and those they do business with on how to effectively comply with the vast and complex HIPAA regulations. These programs can be tailored to specific audiences: for example, an insurance provider would not need to be told not to leave a patient's hospital charts outside their door.

Even if you think you are fluent in HIPAA regulations, most organizations provide training updates every 1 to 2 years to keep up with the changes that are implemented from time to time.

3. Who needs HIPAA training programs?

ANYONE who sees, handles or transmits patients' personal health information. Known as "covered entities," these include:

  • Physicians' offices
  • Clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance companies
  • Nursing homes
  • Chiropractors
  • HMOs
  • Dental offices
  • Vision centers
  • Hospice groups

AND the organizations they work with:

  • Call centers
  • Billing companies
  • Medical equipment or supply providers
  • Human resources professionals
  • Sales teams

4. Where can I find HIPAA training courses?

There is a variety of options for HIPAA training courses. Online learning provides a more indivdual, flexible approach, whereas some companies will offer in-house courses for covered entities with a lot of staff. Some courses even offer certificates on completion. Carefully evaluate your needs so you can choose the right training for your staff.

5. Is HIPAA training expensive?

While there is a cost associated with training staff on HIPAA compliance policies and procedures, the price for non-compliance is even higher. Violations can bring civil penalties, including per-violation fines that range from $100 to $50,000 per incident.

HIPAA compliance is a necessary part of operating your business or practice and one that should not be neglected—no matter how busy you or the staff might be. Don't neglect HIPAA training for one more day.

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