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Employee Education Prevents Violations

Group Of Happy Doctors

When you work for or work with a healthcare entity, you have to be HIPAA compliant. Non-compliance results in stress, operational inefficiencies, increased business risk such as civil and criminal charges, including costly fines and jail time, and embarrassment for the person and entity involved in the violation.

One way you can help prevent against HIPAA violations is educating your staff about HIPAA security and privacy regulations and the requirements to be HIPAA compliant. Educating and training your staff is how you’ll keep your sensitive physical, software and network information private and protected.

Patients’ private health information is stored on networks, but it’s also carried and transmitted through various devices. Here are devices health entities use to store, access and share ePHI:

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Smart phones
  • USB thumb drives

These devices are extremely useful to health care entities, but the more useful something is to an entity, the greater risk it also tends to be. As you educate and inform your staff on your device standards and policies to remain HIPAA compliant, you’ll lower your risks.

How should you educate and inform your staff?

Hold Trainings

Training is necessary with every company. Staff members need to know what to do and how to do it correctly. This is especially important in the health care industry because messing up means violating HIPAA, and violating HIPAA results in substantial repercussions.

Determining your training approach is up to you and what you think will work best for your entity. Consider the best ways your staff learns and what training method will be the most valuable and provide hands-on experience for your staff. You want them to walk away with a knowledgeable understanding they’ll remember, not an information overload they’ll forget by the end of the day.

While most procedures you cover will apply to each staff member, contemplate having different training levels because certain ones are unique to certain positions. Here are trainings and processes to implement with your staff:

  • General HIPAA and device training for new hires as part of their orientation
  • Annual HIPAA and device trainings for each staff member
  • Have a process that evaluates how effective trainings are
  • Set up a process that verifies your staff members have completed their trainings before they can access PHI
  • Enforce a discipline policy if any staff member fails to comply with your HIPAA device trainings and policies

Use HIPAA Security Software

Another way to keep your staff educated is implementing HIPAA security software. Besides offering simplified, user-friendly online procedures to make sure your network and processes are compliant, many of these software programs also offer HIPAA security and privacy training courses and/or seminars for you and your staff members. This compliance software identifies any holes in your network, analyzes your risk level, informs your staff on how to safeguard ePHI and trains them on what it means and what’s required to be HIPAA compliant. HIPAA security software is an essential tool to help educate your staff and prevent HIPAA violations in regards to the devices you use to store and transmit patient information.

Notify Employees When Changes Are Made

The final way to keep your staff informed is notifying them when changes are made or new information is released regarding HIPAA security and privacy rules, as well as your entity’s HIPPA device policies. You need a way to send out this information so it reaches all of your employees and does so in a timely manner. Here are some delivery options:

  • Company email
  • Company newsletter
  • Fliers
  • Handouts
  • Posters
  • Special meetings or trainings

What do you educate and inform your staff on?

Your staff needs to know how they can safeguard the ePHI they handle against threats to its integrity, security and unauthorized use. They need to know how to best protect themselves, the health care entity they work for and, most importantly, the patients and their information. Below are the topics your staff should be educated and informed on:

  • How to install and enable encryption
  • Avoid opening emais from people you don’t know
  • Procedures to detect and guard against malicious software
  • Locking and shutting down devices when not in use
  • Implementing passwords, passcodes or other forms of user authentication to allow access to devices
  • Ways to prevent the loss or theft of devices
  • How to install and activate remote wiping or disabling if device is lost or stolen
  • When and how it’s okay to send or receive ePHI
  • When and how device audits and inventories take place

Violating HIPAA is a situation you don’t want to put yourself in. Take the time to educate and inform your staff on the regulations and device standards they must follow to remain HIPAA compliant. Education is your best privacy asset, so take advantage of it and steer clear of those hefty HIPAA violations.

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