Dedicated to providing the latest
HIPAA compliance news

HIPAA Training Requirements

What are the HIPAA Training Requirements?

Because HIPAA applies to many different types of Covered Entity (CE) and Business Associate (BA), the HIPAA training requirements are best described as vague. Training is undoubtedly mandatory. It is an Administrative Requirement of the HIPAA Privacy Rule (45 CFR §164.530) and an Administrative Safeguard of the HIPAA Security Rule (45 CFR §164.308).

However, other than stipulating that training should be provided “as necessary and appropriate for members of the workforce to carry out their functions” (HIPAA Privacy Rule) and that CEs and BAs should “implement a security awareness and training program for all members of the workforce” (HIPAA Security Rule), there are no specific HIPAA training requirements.

Doesn’t This Complicate HIPAA Compliance?

Knowing that you have to provide training, but not knowing what sort of training you have to provide, does complicate HIPAA compliance. Certainly, if a breach of PHI was to occur, and a subsequent investigation found that no training had been provided, the CE or BA responsible could expect a substantial fine from the HHS´ Office for Civil Rights.

To overcome the vagueness of the HIPAA training requirements, CEs and BAs should refer back to their risk assessments. The risk assessments should have defined the function of each individual who may have contact with PHI or ePHI and, from this data, it should be possible to compile a “necessary and appropriate” security awareness and training program for each individual´s function or role.

Consider the Objectives of HIPAA Training

What should be included in the security awareness and training program will depend on the functions or role of each individual employee, manager, volunteer, trainee or contractor who may have contact with PHI or ePHI. In many cases it will be necessary to compile multiple security awareness and training programs to ensure their content is relevant to trainees.

This may be time-consuming and resource intensive; but, in order for training to be effective, it has to be focused. If an attempt is made to cram every element of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules into a six-hour training session, trainees will have too much information to absorb what is relevant to their function and the objectives of the HIPAA training will be unsuccessful.

Best Practises for HIPAA Compliance Training

With there being no specific HIPAA training requirements, we have put together a handful of best practises HIPAA compliance managers may want to consider when compiling “necessary and appropriate” security awareness and training programs. Our best practises for HIPAA compliance training are not set in stone and can be selected from at will.

  • Do keep training short and sweet. It is recommended that training sessions last no longer than forty minutes and are regular events rather than the annual refreshers mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Don’t waste time on the background to HIPAA. Employees do not need to know what HIPAA stands for or the history of its development and passage. Only discuss what they are supposed to do to protect PHI and ePHI in their specific roles.
  • Do include the consequences of a HIPAA breach in the training – not just the financial implications for the CE or BA, but the implications for trainees and their colleagues, and – of course – the person(s) whose PHI has been exposed.
  • Don’t quote passages of text out of the HIPAA guidebook. Use multimedia presentations to make the training memorable. HIPAA compliance training not only has to be absorbed, it has to be understood and followed in day-to-day life.
  • Do include senior management in the training. Even if senior managers have no contact with PHI, it is essential they are seen to be involved with HIPAA compliance training. Knowing that the training is being taken seriously at the top will encourage others to take it seriously.
  • Don’t forget to document your training. In the event of an OCR investigation or audit, it is important to be able to produce the content of the training as well as when it was administered, to whom, and how frequently.

Find Out More about the HIPAA Training Requirements

The consequences of inadequate training can be substantial – not only in financial terms, but also in human terms. Yet many HIPAA breaches can be avoided with adequate HIPAA compliance training. Although the only HIPAA training requirements appear to be that there must be training, you can find out more about what should be included in HIPAA compliance training by downloading our free HIPAA Compliance Guide.