According to a joint survey by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) and the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA), human error is the main cause of data breaches. While the threat from hackers is ever present, the survey highlights the need for organizations to train their employees on compliance risks and set up adequate controls (Source: SCCE Press Release). So, what are the typical compliance gaps in the healthcare industry that are prone to human error?
Compliance Gaps in the Healthcare Industry
Since human error is a critical threat for healthcare compliance, I will focus on risks that can be avoided by educating healthcare service providers and practitioners. Risks can be broadly classified as follows:
- Risk of data or privacy breaches when using electronic health records
- Risk involved when employees use personal mobile devices
- Lack of knowledge of quality requirements among employees
Let’s look at them in detail and explore how online training can be put to good use to mitigate compliance risks in the healthcare sector.
Risk of data or privacy breaches by employees
According to a study by Experian Data Breach Resolution and Ponemon Institute, 55% of companies surveyed experienced security incidents due to malicious or negligent employees. The simple practice of logging out or locking the system when leaving their desks could avert a major data breach. Often, such simple practices are overlooked, leading to healthcare data compromise. The report also observed that organizations need to invest time and efforts to educate employees on how to avoid privacy and data breaches.
How online training helps:
A bunch of guidelines in the form of PDF documents or printed manuals will not really have the necessary impact. Such learning is less likely to stick. Online courses can be interactive and absorbing so that they are less of a chore and more enjoyable, leading to better retention.. There are many rapid authoring tools that help create interesting and engaging compliance courses. Other benefits include:
- Customize courses based on learners, their job roles, and learning needs
- Use scenarios and case studies in training for maximum impact and knowledge retention
- Test knowledge gained through online assessments and suggest re-training where essential
- Avoid logistical nightmares associated with face-to-face training and provide regular refresher training for key compliance training subjects
Risk involved when employees use personal mobile devices
Several risks are involved with mobile devices, especially if they are used to access Patient Health Information (PHI). Patient data can be compromised when mobile devices are lost, stolen, or shared with others. In addition, mobile devices could be attacked by viruses or hackers. Healthcare givers – be it physicians, nurses, or hospital staff need to be aware of the risks involved, and the best practices to adopt when using mobile devices for accessing or sharing PHI.
How online training helps:
The best means to highlight the risks involved is through mobile devices themselves. M-learning courses or modules that are short (2-3mins), are quite effective to sensitize the need for and importance of best practices while using mobile devices. Other benefits of online training include:
- Reinforce best practices for securing patient data and other compliance norms on a quarterly/half-yearly basis
- Train healthcare professionals on new compliance norms or latest security threats on short notice
- Push resources or videos to mobile devices of employees, reminding them of compliance regulations, due diligences. and their responsibilities
Lack of knowledge of quality requirements among employees
According to “The Essential Guide to Health Care Quality” by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, quality problems fall into three broad categories:
- Underuse – where patients do not receive the medical care they need
- Misuse – where patients get wrong care, wrong medication
- Overuse – where patients receive care that is not required or are given expensive options when cheaper alternatives with fewer side effects are available
While healthcare centers and governments have regulations and guidelines in place to avert such quality problems, it is equally important for all stakeholders to be aware of, and educated about these measures – again highlighting the importance of training.
How online training helps:
Online modules can help patient care givers get critical information that can be used on the job. This can pertain to the use of certain equipment, the use of a drug, or the right way to store or share information. Benefits include:
- Easily accessible knowledge when needed (just-in-time performance support)
- Knowledge/guidelines available in the format learners prefer (can be in the form of videos, interactive modules, or digital eBooks)
- Can be used to check knowledge gaps and assign refresher courses as needed
Healthcare compliance issues are caused by human error, usually due to lack of knowledge or ignorance. Online training makes employees more vigilant and aware, greatly reducing compliance risks in your organization.
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