How long it takes to get HIPAA certified depends on factors such as the motive for getting HIPAA certified, the certification requirements, and the amount of time available to fulfil the requirements.
HIPAA certifications do not absolve individual and organizations from any obligations they have under HIPAA to protect the privacy and security of individually identifiable health information, but they can help individuals improve their employment prospects or help organizations demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with HIPAA.
Many individuals and organizations undergo HIPAA training courses and assessments that award certificates on successful completion. The courses and assessments can vary in complexity depending on the motive for getting HIPAA certified; and, because some individuals or organizations start with a higher “compliance base” than others, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question how long does it take to get HIPAA certified.
The Motives for Getting HIPAA Certified
The motives for getting HIPAA certified can vary from an individual wanting to improve their employment prospects, to a large healthcare system wanting to demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with HIPAA. Other motives include complying with a covered entity’s due diligence requirements or proving the provision of HIPAA training. However, even within specific motive “types” there can be a wide range of underlying motives.
For example, an individual who already works for a healthcare provider may just need to know more about permissible uses and disclosures of PHI to qualify for a promotion, whereas an individual with no previous experience in healthcare may need to learn HIPAA from start to finish in order to apply for a role in a compliance team.
HIPAA training courses that award certificates on successful completion of the course can satisfy both motives for getting HIPAA certified, but it should not take as long to get HIPAA certified for fully understanding permissible uses and disclosures of PHI as it will to get HIPAA certified for acquiring a start-to-finish knowledge of HIPAA compliance.
What Requirements are Already Satisfied?
Because an organization is more likely to need certification for all applicable areas of HIPAA compliance, how long it takes for an organization to get HIPAA certified is more likely to be influenced by what requirements for certification are already satisfied and what resources it has to fill gaps in compliance or knowledge.
For example, if healthcare facility “A” already complies with CMS’ Emergency Preparedness Rule, it should take less time to get certified than healthcare facility “B” that does not comply with the Emergency Preparedness Rule – assuming both healthcare facilities have equal resources to fill other gaps in HIPAA compliance.
Another factor to consider is that the workforce of healthcare facility “B” may be better trained than the workforce of healthcare facility “A”. This could mean fewer HIPAA violations, security incidents, complaints, and sanctions occur in healthcare facility “B” – making it more likely healthcare facility “B” would get a certificate of HIPAA compliance faster.
How Long Does it Take to Get HIPAA Certified? Conclusion
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long does it take to get HIPAA certified due to factors such as the motives for getting HIPAA certified, the requirements for certification, the existing “compliance base”, and the resources available to fill gaps in compliance or knowledge.
Because of these factors, individuals and organizations evaluating certification programs should not take advantage of the quickest – or cheapest – route to certification, but should evaluate a selection of third party certification companies to identify one with a compliance program that best matches their requirements.