After the initial training, how often must security and privacy training be completed?

While HIPAA regulations do not specify an exact frequency for ongoing security and privacy training after the initial session, industry best practice is to conduct annual refresher training to ensure that all staff members are up-to-date with the latest privacy and security policies, changes in HIPAA regulations, and emerging threats to Protected Health Information (PHI). This annual training ensures that employees are consistently informed about current privacy and security policies, any changes or updates in HIPAA regulations, and new challenges or threats related to the protection of PHI. Regular training helps in reinforcing the importance of compliance, keeping staff vigilant, and minimizing the risk of data breaches. Training also an opportunity to educate staff about new technologies, best practices in data handling, and case studies of security incidents in the healthcare sector. Given the nature of healthcare operations and technology, along with evolving threats to data security, this annual training schedule helps organizations maintain a culture of compliance and awareness, which is important for the safeguarding of sensitive patient information.

Cyberattacks, such as ransomware and phishing, pose significant threats to PHI, where attackers seek to exploit vulnerabilities in healthcare systems to access sensitive data. These attacks are often sophisticated, using social engineering tactics to deceive healthcare staff into revealing login credentials or downloading malicious software. Insider threats also present a considerable risk, either through deliberate misuse of data by staff or unintentional breaches due to lack of training or negligence. The increasing use of mobile devices and remote access technologies in healthcare increases the risk, as these devices can be lost, stolen, or compromised, leading to potential PHI exposure. Inadequate network security and outdated systems without proper patches and updates can create entry points for hackers. The transition to electronic health records (EHRs) and the growing trend of integrating healthcare systems for better data flow increase the complexity of securing PHI, as interconnected systems can sometimes lead to greater vulnerabilities. It is likely that the best practice of providing annual HIPAA training to any staff in contact with PHI might evolve into more frequent training as the cybersecurity risks increase.


About the Author

Elizabeth Hernandez
Elizabeth Hernandez is the editor of HIPAA News. Elizabeth is an experienced journalist who has worked in the healthcare sector for several years. Her expertise is not limited to general healthcare reporting but extends to specialized areas of healthcare compliance and HIPAA compliance. Elizabeth's knowledge in these areas has made her a reliable source for information on the complexities of healthcare regulations. Elizabeth's contribution to the field extends to helping readers understand the importance of patient privacy and secure handling of health information. Elizabeth holds a postgraduate degree in journalism. You can follow Elizabeth on twitter at