How to Become HIPAA Certified

How do you become HIPAA Certified? Well, the government has not approved any HIPAA certification or education providers to offer HIPAA Certification. Therefore, there is no legal way of becoming HIPAA certified.

Instead of looking for a single way to get HIPAA certified, what you can do is what HHS and OCR recommend. That is to get your employees and associates to sign HIPAA awareness documentation.

However, before you get anyone to sign documentation confirming their HIPAA awareness, you need to train or inform them about HIPAA compliance. With that in mind, here is what you can do to get started.

How Long Does It Take To Get HIPAA Certified

It is important to realize that HIPAA compliance is a continuous process, and not a one-time event. In other words, today you can get certified as being HIPAA compliant, but there are many changes that will make the compliance certificate to become invalid shortly afterward.

Such changes can include IT technology, staffing, HIPAA rules, government policy, or even business practices. In that regard, this list is not exhaustive, but it will help you get the most obvious HIPAA requirements out of your way.

Privacy and Security Policy

You need to develop a privacy policy that your customers, staff, and business associates can refer to when dealing with your organization. You also need a security policy that will offer guidance during diverse scenarios.

Your privacy and security policy can be used to guide your staff in case of a security breach. This can be in the form of a brute-force attack, a man-in-the-middle attack (MITM), or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks.

You should also make sure that your privacy policy is readily available to your staff, patients, customers, and business associates. To do that, post it on your website, office notice boards, and have it on brochures. You should also ask patients to read it when taking their ePHI.

Privacy and Security Staff

You need to appoint one of your staff members to be in charge of HIPAA compliance. They need to be knowledgeable about HIPAA security policy, as well as IT security. These two competencies will help them to secure, manage, and control access to protected health information.

Email Policy

Emails are well known for being vulnerable when used without encryption or strong passwords. There are specific requirements that outline the need to use encryption when using emails to send ePHI. However, email encryption is considered a best practice for any organization handling information that requires security and confidentiality.

Mobile Devices Policy

You need to come up with a policy to govern the use of mobile devices used to access ePHI. The policy can also cover the use of smartphones to access work-related emails, as they may contain ePHI.

Having a strong policy on the use of mobile devices will go a long way to limit vulnerabilities and devices that need monitoring. The policy should offer guidance on what happens when a mobile device accesses ePHI, or when it is added to your organization’s network.

Staff Training

You need to give your all staff some basic HIPAA Security training. They do not need to become experts at securing ePHI, but they need to know enough about HIPAA compliance, to do their job properly.

It is a fact that members of staff often cause HIPAA violations, without intending to do it. It is therefore in the organization’s best interest to train members of staff on how to safeguard ePHI. You may also educate them on the precautions they can take to avoid unintentional data security breaches.

Protocol for ePHI Breaches

Even when you have taken all steps to comply with HIPAA, it is possible for a HIPAA security breach to occur. You need to have a protocol to follow during such unfortunate events. In summary, the ePHI breach protocol should make it possible to verify whether a breach occurred.

If the breach occurred your ePHI protocol should provide methods for documenting it, and you should alert the authorities immediately.  You may also prepare to inform the affected patients, after informing the relevant authorities.

Enforce HIPAA Security and Privacy Policies

Once you have formulated your policies and trained your staff, the next course of action is to enforce your HIPAA policies. Everyone should be made aware of the penalties they will face for breaching the organization’s HIPAA guidelines.

Furthermore, as a covered entity, you must evaluate your HIPAA compliance on a regular basis, to find out any new vulnerabilities or breaches. If you find any breaches or vulnerabilities, then you must enforce your HIPAA Security and Privacy Policies.

Conclusion – How to Get HIPAA Certified

It is okay to get a certification that says you have undergone training on HIPAA rules and policies, and you have done tests on the same. Such certification may help you to get hired by covered entities, or to do business with covered entities.

However, there are no federal requirements to become HIPAA certified, and none of the federal agencies will recognize your HIPAA certification. Moreover, no private entities are legally recognized or authorized to offer HIPAA certifications.

Overall, getting a HIPAA certification will give you peace of mind. Moreover, any HIPAA audits only serve to show that you were compliant at the time the audit was done.

We hope you found this guide on how to get HIPAA compliance certification to be informative, and you will continually evaluate and uphold your HIPAA compliance.

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