As a highly regulated, high-risk industry, healthcare organizations place the utmost concern on compliance. Healthcare compliance protects both patients and staff, and widely covers areas such as patient safety, data protection, and billing. As such, compliance programs are set in place to ensure organizational adherence to any relevant state or federal laws and industry standards.
View this list of compliance resources provided by the Office of Inspector General to help healthcare professionals comply with federal healthcare laws and regulations. Below, we’ve included five steps to follow in order to ensure healthcare compliance within your organization.
1.Identify Best Standards and Required Regulations
The first step is to identify any required regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). These regulations protect patient privacy and require healthcare organizations to implement proper security measures to keep patient records protected. Many organizations are also protected by non-industry specific regulations such as OSHA, FEMA, and DHS. Identifying all required regulations and best practices is your starting point as it sets the end goal that you are working towards.
You will also need to identify personnel or departments in scope for those regulations and ensure they are considered in planning and preparations. Within a risk management platform, these are the staff members that you would need to create user accounts for to ensure complete participation.
2.Implement and Manage Written Policies and Procedures
The second step is to implement your policies and procedures that ensure compliance with the regulations you’ve identified. These policies and procedures will directly influence the rights and responsibilities of staff in their day-to-day activities. It is necessary to have these documents readily accessible by all staff, and ensure they are available in case of an audit. Using a risk management platform, all of your policy and procedure documents can be centrally located. Upload these documents to the platform to perform an assessment.
3.Conduct Regular Training and Engagement Exercises
The third step is to make sure you train your staff to be aware of their requirements. This includes avoiding shortcuts and practices that may make a job function easier, but add unnecessary risk. Often, this is seen in the form of yearly meetings or movies that have little impact on performance. Be sure to require engagement and promote an environment of active learning, and don’t be afraid to utilize technology for activities and quizzes to boost attention. These should occur at the frequency your management team sees fit, at the minimum time required to meet compliance. The challenge of training and creating a culture of compliance, is ensuring that what you are communicating makes sense and can be easily understood by staff.
4.Conduct Regular Internal Assessments and Audits
Conducting regular assessments and audits is crucial to early identification of any non-compliance, giving your staff time to mitigate risk before an incident or external audit can occur. Saving record of your results ensures you have proof of compliance in the event of an incident, such as a data breach, and will minimize the penalty fees to your organization. These regular assessments are required to ensure the safety of both staff and patients, and to alert your team on any problem areas.
5.Identify Threats and Plan Mitigation
After your assessment is complete, the last step is to mitigate any risks identified. The assessment will give insight as to all of your risks and non-compliance, and how they rank in terms of importance/impact to your organization. This data will allow your team to informed decisions about how to allocate resources to mitigate the worst risks, and which are within your risk appetite. A risk management software, such as ComplianceWatch, will automatically offer remediation task suggestions and track improvements over time.
Constantly changing laws and regulations can make it challenging for organizations to maintain healthcare compliance. Utilizing ComplianceWatch, you can rest assured that we will regularly update our content libraries, so you’re always aware of any non-compliance issues. Take a trial today to see how software can streamline your compliance management.