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Healthcare Compliance Training During COVID-19

Like every other part of the healthcare industry, healthcare compliance is feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. For compliance training, healthcare organizations’ approaches run the gamut from little change with training assignments and business as usual to full-on suspensions in the face of the pandemic’s workforce demands. While some regulations have been temporarily suspended in the face of the pandemic, they have not been cancelled.

To explain the official Federal suspension of regulation, MedCityNews offers that according “the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency will not impose penalties for noncompliance against covered providers who use telehealth vendors that may not fully comply with HIPAA during Covid-19.” However, “While this announcement is helping to alleviate clinicians’ communication compliance concerns, the OCR is still urging healthcare teams to use secure solutions that can protect PHI.” The same source tells us we need to remember that “there will come a time where HIPAA compliance relaxations related to Covid-19 will end.” Healthcare compliance officers need to be prepared for that milestone well in advance.

The Growing Virtual Workforce May Require Different Training

There may be some changes to the healthcare workforce that will require compliance training to go in additional new directions. For example, Managed Care Executive tells us that “Dramatic shifts in virtual work and a rise in telehealth appointments seemingly happened overnight, leaving many health care providers and related organizations unprepared. These types of occurrences can leave both small and large organizations vulnerable to a myriad of outside and inside threats, as well as reputation-damaging fines. Now is the time for compliance officers to get a better grasp on compliance and continuity across the organization.” One way to support these changes is through education. A suggestion is, “Once device ownership and security standards have been re-established, organizations must take the time to educate employees on keeping client’s data safe in today’s working environment. As organizations increasingly focus on the value of data, employees are making decisions with data every day that have major impacts on business operations. Investing time in interactive training can show employees the importance of their decisions is the best way to mitigate risk.”

What is not going to change about healthcare compliance training is the need to create a strong program that incorporates healthcare compliance best practices and works to build a culture of compliance. Organizations will still need to assess their annual compliance training needs, based on their locations and relevant regulations. For compliance staff and leaders not directly involved in providing care, this time is a good opportunity to assess and fine tune compliance training programs so that organizations are well prepared to put them back in place. A worst case scenario is for healthcare organizations to halt their programs without a plan for restarting when this crisis inevitable passes.

HealthStream provides online healthcare compliance training solutions to help health systems, facilities, and organizations across the care continuum comply with government regulations and accrediting body requirements. These online training courses, spanning the areas of Billing & Corporate Compliance, HIPAA, Privacy & Security, Research Compliance, and Workforce compliance, are recognized for using video and other interactive elements to engage learners, increase retention, and change staff behavior.

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