HIPAA Certification: What Is It And How To Get One

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The issue of data privacy has become an everyday talk in organizations and businesses. It’s not just about ethics, but regulations require to protect customer data from breaches. Penalties to companies that don’t protect customer data include fines, revoking licenses, and generally, clients will lose trust in your business.

The healthcare sector is one sector that holds very valuable data. Attackers are always in a constant quest to get hold of patients’ information, which places health facilities, records, and any channel interacting with the data as a prime target.  Therefore, being compliant with data privacy isn’t an option. This led to the enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1966 (HIPAA).

With the act put in place, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) then issued a HIPAA privacy rule that aimed to implement the requirement of a national security standard that protects patients’ information. This federal law prohibits sharing of information without the patient’s knowledge and consent. As a result of this, organizations always look for HIPAA certification.

What Is HIPAA Certification

A HIPAA certification or HIPAA compliance certification is a certification that shows a healthcare organization meets the standards outlined in the security rule in section 164 of HIPAA. The healthcare organization that qualifies for this certification includes health care providers, business associates, and health plan providers.

The certification is proof that your healthcare organization meets the standard outlined by HIPAA and is usually awarded by a third-party assessor. However, the health and human services department doesn’t require the certification, so your organization can still do without it.

A HIPAA certification can also prove that you’ve undergone a training course on the fundamental practices you need to undertake to become HIPAA compliant. You should note that if you’ve got a certificate after undergoing the training course, it doesn’t mean you’re HIPAA compliant, as you may fail to implement the guidelines in your organization.

The HHS can probe for a security violation even with certification as it doesn’t recognize private assessment and certification regarding the HIPAA rules. Therefore, while the certificate can have significant benefits in business, it doesn’t absolve your organization from the legal duties of protecting patients’ data privacy.

How To Get HIPAA Certification

There are two significant ways that you can get a HIPAA certification. However, you should remember that HIPAA certification doesn’t guarantee compliance, and therefore, isn’t recognized by HHS. Here are the two ways to get HIPAA certified:

  • Undertaking HIPAA Compliance Courses

This is the most common way of getting a HIPAA certification. Several private organizations offer courses on the HIPAA security rules, and once you have finished the course of study, a certificate will be given.

Because a healthcare organization has several employees, you can enroll all your staff on the certification course at once or in groups, depending on your financial muscle and labor force. Once your whole organization mastered the course of study, you can document the policies and procedures and roll them out in the organization. It will help you decide what areas will need auditing to always keep your organization compliant

The advantage of having trained employees is that you can professionally implement the compliance policies. It will help you prove that you regularly audit your compliance system and the procedures are well in place in cases where your organization comes under scrutiny. If you have no trained personnel, it would be hard to demonstrate your compliance policy, leading to fines and penalties. 

Therefore, it’s decisive to invest in a valuable compliance course, train your employees and get your organization certified.

  • Get Certified By A Third Party Company

To get a HIPAA certification, a third-party organization that isn’t affiliated with your organization will have to assess your company’s standards. If your company meets the privacy, breach, and security rules as stated by HIPAA, then it’s passed as being compliant, and you get awarded with a certificate. 

However, you should note that even though the assessor will pass you as compliant, the HHS department won’t recognize the certification as it doesn’t recognize private certification. The organization can still be tested for non-compliance and could face any legal charges if they fail the compliance test.

In Summary

A HIPAA certification isn’t a complex subject as it involves an organization being certified as HIPAA compliant. Even though the certification won’t necessarily mean that your organization meets the national security and data privacy standards, it’s still relevant to get the certificate as it’s beneficial.

You can either enroll your staff in a HIPAA certification course and let them learn how to be compliant and implement it at work or get a third-party company to come and assess your compliance system.

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