All employees at HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates must receive training on HIPAA if they encounter protected health information (PHI) in the course of their work duties, but what about HIPAA training for students? Do the HIPAA Rules also call for training to be provided to healthcare students?
Is HIPAA Training for Students Necessary?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an important legislative act for the healthcare industry and its provisions guide many healthcare policies and procedures and the HIPAA requirements for training are clear. All individuals that come into contact with PHI must receive training, which includes healthcare employees in all departments, students, interns, volunteers, and temporary workers.
Clinical students will encounter PHI during the course of their studies and placements, so it is essential for them to know about the allowable uses and disclosures of PHI, patient rights, and to have an understanding of the HIPAA Security Rule requirements for ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI).
The penalties for HIPAA violations can be severe and the failure to provide training is likely to be discovered during investigations into data breaches or compliance audits. Patients are becoming more aware of their rights under HIPAA and what the legislation requires. Complaints could easily be filed with the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights which are investigated and could prompt a compliance review.
If students are not made aware of the requirements of HIPAA, they cannot be expected to follow the HIPAA Rules and accidental, and potentially very costly, HIPAA violations could easily occur.
What Should HIPAA Training for Students Cover?
It is not necessary to provide in depth training on all the intricacies of HIPAA for healthcare students, but a good grounding in the basics of HIPAA is important. This will ensure that students are aware of the extent to which HIPAA covers the working lives of all healthcare professionals. Healthcare students should have an understanding of the legislation, why it was introduced, why HIPAA is so important, and how HIPAA will impact them during their studies and when they graduate and start working in the healthcare industry.
HIPAA training for students should also cover the aspects of HIPAA that are likely to impact their studies and placements. Training should cover allowable uses and disclosures of PHI, the minimum necessary standard, when patient authorizations are required, removal of PHI from clinical settings, use of PHI in reports and presentations, HIPAA and social media sites, implementing safeguards to protect all PHI, and the importance of reporting any potential HIPAA violations.
Students must also be made aware of the consequences of HIPAA violations, which could involve a suspension or expulsion from the course or even criminal charges for serious violations.
You should document all HIPAA training for students, including training provided to students. You should keep a log of who has received training, the date the training was provided, and what the training covered. The log should be stored with your HIPAA documentation. Training logs will be one of the first requested documents in the event of a compliance audit or investigation into a HIPAA complaint.
Security Awareness Training for Healthcare Students
The HIPAA Security Rule requires security awareness training to be provided to the workforce, which includes volunteers and students. Cybercriminals target individuals with phishing emails and use social engineering tricks to obtain sensitive information, so it is essential for students to be made aware of the threats.
Students should receive training on cybersecurity best practices to help reduce the risk of a data breach and training should cover the main threats students are likely to encounter, how to identify those threats, and what to do when a threat is encountered.