In today’s climate of fast-changing regulations, healthcare organizations often struggle to keep up with the latest regulatory updates. Ensuring patients’ safety and privacy is more important than ever and regulatory scrutiny has significantly increased.
Not only do healthcare organizations have to meet expectations from regulators, but also from other parties such as their patients. These expectations mostly include current laws and regulations regarding data governance in the healthcare industry.
While trying to stay on top of the complex regulatory requirements, healthcare organizations often get distracted from their main goal which is delivering the best possible care to their patients.
Healthcare providers must find a way to improve patient care within the boundaries set by regulatory bodies. They must be aware of all potential risks that could impact their organization and take the necessary steps to mitigate those risks, not only for the sake of their own business but for patients as well. Regarding this, Space Coast Daily has an interesting article you might want to read.
Compliance is not something that should be seen as simply a chore that needs to be done. In order to successfully and effectively ensure compliance, you must make it an integral part of your company culture.
HIPAA and Data Governance
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is legislation that provides data privacy and security guidelines for safeguarding protected health information (PHI), including medical records and payment histories.
In order to ensure compliance, organizations must retain all messages for a certain period to prove that they either didn’t contain any PHI or if they did, that the information was sent through properly protected and encrypted channels.
The healthcare industry has one of the strictest requirements when it comes to email retention policies and all emails should be kept for a period of 7 years. After the retention period expires, healthcare organizations should safely get rid of email records.
The best way to manage retention is to use email archiving solutions that enable healthcare organizations to easily locate and remove any records that contain sensitive medical data that shouldn’t be in the archive.
Building the Culture of Compliance
Ensuring compliance is more than just reading relevant regulations and creating internal policies according to them. It’s about creating a culture of compliance and making sure that every single member of the organization is aware of the importance of compliance policies and knows how to implement them.
Compliance shouldn’t be seen as a one-time project, but instead embedded into day-to-day activities. Instead of simply ‘setting and forgetting’ a compliance policy, it is essential to make sure that healthcare staff continuously work on putting those policies to work during their daily operations and continually do the right thing.
In order to build a culture of compliance, healthcare organizations should take the following three steps.
1. Ask employees what compliance means to them
In order to make any improvements, it is crucial to first understand the current state of complčiance within the company and how employees feel about it.
It’s best to start by conducting an anonymous survey to find out whether employees have witnessed any violations of regulations or code of conduct.
The survey should also show whether the employees feel comfortable expressing concerns about these violations to others, and if they do not, find out why. Figuring out exactly what the barriers are is the only way to move forward and make any improvements.
2. Educate and employees about compliance
The culture of compliance can only be truly achieved if employees at every level of the organization are on board with compliance policies and share common goals. Educating them about compliance policies and best practices is a great way to start.
Educational videos and training courses created specifically for the healthcare industry are great sources of knowledge, but practical demonstrations are even more important. Management should lead by example and show good conduct in practice.
3. Launch a practice-wide awareness campaign
Equally important as proper training is raising awareness about the importance of compliance. Awareness campaigns can help organizations teach employees about the company’s comčliance policy and explain which steps they should take in case they witness misconduct.
These campaigns can include anything from posters to internal email newsletters that will remind and educate employees about important compliance concepts.
It is crucial to also always clearly state who’s in charge of compliance issues and include their contact information so that employees can easily reach out to them if they have any compliance-related concerns.
Staying on top of the newest trends and regulations is necessary in the fast-changing world of compliance. Proper data handling has never been more important and both patients and regulatory bodies have never had higher standards. That’s why it’s crucial to constantly work on improving compliance policies and educating employees on how to implement them. Only with a strong culture of compliance and a holistic approach can healthcare organizations succeed in the changing landscape of the healthcare industry.