HIPAA Training: Worth it for a Healthy Career Outlook?
Data privacy and security is now paramount for organizations to ensure they’re meeting both legislative standards and compliance requirements. This is especially critical for any business that handles protected health information (PHI) either directly or in partnership with another enterprise — data storage, handling, and eventual destruction are all governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).While many IT jobs don’t require HIPAA certification, companies are searching for HIPAA-trained professionals capable of assessing current privacy processes, ensuring new data is properly handled and stored and responding to security incidents as they occur. Here’s how the right HIPAA training can help drive a healthy career outlook and pave the way for new IT opportunities.
Why Does HIPAA Matter?As the volume and variety of health data diversify, companies need a way to ensure patient privacy is respected — while also leveraging the information contained in electronic health records (EHRs) and patient health accounts to help streamline treatment and maximize benefit use.HIPAA compliance and certification is now required for all businesses that handle health data, even if they’re not the primary collectors or managers of this information. HIPAA defines two types of organizations that require compliance: Covered Entities, which create or collect PHI, and Business Associates, which regularly encounter PHI. For example, clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals are considered Covered Entities and must meet the highest level of HIPAA compliance. Financial firms, insurance companies, or even cloud providers who handle this data peripherally are considered Business Associates and must meet similar requirements even if they only transmit or store PHI.Failure to follow HIPAA rules can result in substantial fines and reputation damage, and ignorance of the rules is no excuse. Even accidental disclosure or misuse of data by employees or contractors can put companies at risk of non-compliance. Here, “due diligence” is key; enterprises must demonstrate they’ve taken all reasonable steps to ensure health data protection.Also worth noting? Organizations are regularly audited to ensure HIPAA compliance, meaning it’s critical to keep all staff up-to-date on HIPAA training.
What to Look for in HIPAA TrainingFor IT professionals, HIPAA training is critical. Technology staff is often on the front lines of data management and storage, making them the first point of contact for PHI. As a result, their handling of personal health data can make or break compliance from the moment information enters corporate networks.To ensure you’re up to speed with current HIPAA requirements and expectations, it’s a good idea to invest in online training that covers key HIPAA concepts, including:
- Handling PHI — Data must be handled such that security and privacy are prioritized. This includes access restrictions and robust encryption.
- HIPAA Privacy Standards — Covered Entities must follow the HIPPA Privacy Rule, which details patients’ right to access data along with healthcare providers’ right of refusal to provide access.
- Enforcing HIPAA Regulations — Companies must develop policies and procedures that regulate the use of PHI and ensure HIPAA expectations are met.
- Notice of privacy practices — IT professionals often play a role in the development of privacy practice notices which must be supplied to all patients.
- Administrative, physical, and technical safeguards — From secure physical facilities to IAM tools, encryption, and two-factor authentication, IT-implemented safeguards are critical to protecting PHI.
- Security breaches — To ensure swift response after a data breach, IT professionals must design IR plans that critical lockdown data, remediate existing issues, and uncover root causes.
Job Opportunities for HIPAA-Trained ProfessionalsHIPAA-trained IT professionals are in-demand and often find work as:
- Health information analysts — The sheer volume of PHI presents an opportunity for organizations to discover key relationships and identify key efficiency gains. Healthcare information analysts combine big data expertise and HIPAA training to deliver secure analytics at scale.
- PHI database administrators — Maintaining healthcare databases is critical to ensure patient data is both available and secure. As a result, hiring HIPAA-trained database admins is an organizational priority for many healthcare companies.
- Clinical application developers — Patients want on-demand access to healthcare data and services. Experienced, HIPAA-knowledgeable developers are required to help securely bridge the gap between expectation and access.
- Healthcare organization CISOs — Deep industry experience, technical skill, and HIPAA training is critical for healthcare CISOs, who are quickly becoming must-haves for effective C-suite operations.