HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, applies directly to healthcare call centers, both in house (as a covered entity or CE) and outsource (as a business associate or BA). Is your call center truly doing all that HIPAA regulations require in order to protect caller and patient personal health information and maintain compliance? Can you prove it? Do you have needed supporting documentation? If not, perhaps you need a different approach to your HIPAA education.
A holistic HIPAA compliance course should address the full array of issues. This includes creating internal building security protocols, establishing restricted areas, requiring authorized escorts for all visitors, enforcing a strict password policy, and providing for a strategic document shredding procedure. Regulations mandate this training be provided to all new hires, as well as to periodically provide it to existing staff.
Onboarding: The solution for comprehensive HIPAA compliance training starts with the onboarding process of new call center agents. Make HIPAA training part of the beginning phase of their initial instruction. This needs to occur early on, well before they come into contact with any caller or patient information, be it directly or indirectly, intentionally or accidently. HIPAA training can’t occur too soon and ideally should happen as soon as possible after the new hires’ official welcome to the organization. Aim for HIPAA training to happen on day one.
Ongoing: Once is not enough with HIPAA compliance training. Ongoing refresher classes are mandated for all employees on a regular basis. While the timing of these review sessions is not specified, a best practice is to do so annually. This can occur at each employee’s anniversary date or companywide for all employees at a set time each year. More frequent reminder instruction may be warranted if protocols are breached or staff questions arise.
In considering HIPAA compliance training for both new hires and existing staff, take care to document when the training took place and confirm who participated. A best practice is for each participant to complete a short comprehension test covering all essential elements of the instruction, especially if changes have occurred since the prior training. Also have both the administrator and employee sign off on the training session. Together these will provide adequate confirmation that training did indeed occur.
Don’t leave the all-critical HIPAA compliance training to chance. The failure to do so risks your reputation and has financial ramifications. Learn more about HIPAA compliance training, and general healthcare call center training as well, from Call Center Sales Pro.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier contact center consultancy that provides HIPAA compliance training solutions for all levels of staff at healthcare call centers. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.