Compliance officers regularly navigate one of the most complex systems in our country—health care. To protect patient privacy, they are charged with creating (and enforcing!) policies that align with changing regulations, while juggling practical limitations at their own facility.
There are many resources available to help compliance teams develop effective programs. The Office of Inspector General provides online education, and private companies offer products that address everything from technical needs to emotional stressors associated with the job.
Our team recently attended the Health Care Compliance Association’s regional conference in Dallas, Texas, where we had the opportunity to listen and learn from compliance experts about other ways to support compliance teams. We heard from Bret Bissey, MBA, FACHE, CHC, CMPE, and Healthcare Compliance Executive with over 30 years experience. He spoke on “What Every Compliance Officer Needs in Their Toolkit.” Three themes emerged:
1) Support. Compliance teams deserve access to the board (or hospital executives), an appropriate budget, and a respectable level of authority. Without these elements, it is hard for compliance teams to implement changes that steer staff toward a culture of compliance.
2) Independence. By acting independently from clinical operations, compliance officers can remain objective. What if a senior-level physician, or board member, violates a policy? Compliance officers must be empowered to make proper decisions without fear of retaliation. Independence allows this—but it must be clear who, or what policy, validates this independence.
3) Metrics. Certifications, analytics, audits, and documentation are essential elements of any compliance program. Quantitative data are not only important to measure success, but they can also help “sell” compliance programs to staff. Data can support compliance teams in showing why policies are needed.
As compliance teams work to oversee all aspects of healthcare operations, it’s easy to see why so many products have emerged to support their day-to-day activities. Compliance teams can choose resources and tools that integrate with their workflow. Tools designed to help teams attain organizational goals—that also keep compliance officers feeling supported and motivated—are most likely to lead to success.