Easy Ways to Make Your Medical Office More Compliant

Easy Ways to Make Your Medical Office More Compliant

Is your medical office doing everything it can to become and stay compliant with various health care regulations?

That might not be an easy question to answer. You’re dealing with so much information and so many other things, so it may be difficult to determine if you’re following all the rules as well.

It may be easier to achieve health care compliance if you follow a few steps.

Appoint a compliance officer


Medicine is a field marked by constant change.

Not everyone in your office will have the ability to learn and remember every single change relating to compliance. Even if they did learn everything, will they remember these developments and be able to apply them correctly?

Instead, it’s more efficient to appoint one employee as your practice’s compliance officer and be tasked with the responsibility.

Also known as a health information management (HIM) compliance officer, a compliance officer makes it their focus to stay current on regulations that relate to health care. This position requires knowledge about medicine, technology, and the government laws that relate to them.

Since these laws and health care don’t remain the same, these people will continuously need to update their training and education. They might attend workshops or webinars about the topics or other sorts of training opportunities.

Because they’ll be busy with this training, it’s important that their positions reflect this. Employers should recognize that officers need to spend time learning and gathering information, not pile on responsibility after responsibility that keeps them from fulfilling their compliance duties.

Stay current with employee training


One task that compliance officers could keep is to help train other employees.

This training doesn’t have to be time-consuming and might not need to pertain to everyone. But if employees work with health-related information, compliance officers could share some knowledge.

When the federal government is making major changes to health information laws, compliance officers could hold training sessions that relate to these changes and how they pertain specifically to their health care practices.

If the changes are less sweeping, compliance officers could still take notes and add them to their practices’ compliance resources.

During orientation sessions for new employees, officers could lead the parts of the training that relate to compliance. They could update the compliance materials their practices have on file, whether these materials are in paper form, online documents, or both.

Officers could serve as resources themselves. If employees have questions about regulations, they should be able to look to their officers for information and guidance.

Make materials and advice accessible


In fact, compliance officers should make all resources as accessible as possible.

During orientation or other training sessions, they could tell or remind people where your office stores your physical and/or digital compliance materials. When there are major updates, they could share the content of the updates and where they’ve stored information relating to them.

Officers could reassure their fellow employees that they’re available to explain things and offer advice. Laws aren’t always easy to understand, especially if they’re undergoing changes, so these conversations could clarify matters and offer some assistance.

Reassurance is also important when people come forward with possible compliance violations, especially if they’re unsure violations have even occurred. Using some patient understanding, people with complaints and their officers might be better able to investigate and clarify such matters.

By creating such a reassuring atmosphere, employees could be more willing to come forward with compliance breaches. People don’t like to admit they may be wrong or that a problem exists, but addressing the issue quickly could help resolve it quickly before it worsens.

Encouraging an open-door policy and open communication could help foster these actions.

Use technological tools


Assistance could help compliance officers and other employees stay on top of changing laws and health care procedures.

This assistance might be technical. Software tools help people manage medical offices and electronic health records, so they could also help them understand, apply, and conform to regulations.

For example, the U.S. federal government’s 21st Century Cures Act requires medical practices to make patient health information available in a certain format on apps that the patients choose.

Technology could make this happen. Software systems for electronic health records (EHRs) could help compile this information, while other systems could help patients and medical practices access and use this data.

These cloud-based solutions could help format and store information in ways that conform to government regulations. Using established formats might take some of the guesswork of what is compliant and what isn’t, so these solutions might streamline work and avert potential problems.

Research and audit


To determine if you might encounter compliance-related problems, you could conduct some research.

Look for resources such as handbooks and articles that describe compliance protocols as well as common compliance problems. These materials could help you see how your medical practice compares. They could help you learn where others have experienced challenges and how they overcame them.

Similarly, you also might want to search for and store checklists for specific issues. One example could be a checklist that explains how medical offices could conform to HIPAA regulations.

Using these guidelines and others, you could audit your office to see if you measure up to the regulations or if you fall short. Practice management software may have features that let you monitor the way your office handles information and whether your employees have the training they’re required to receive.

Respond to problems

Despite the best efforts of your compliance officer and other employees, your office might still encounter compliance problems.

That’s normal and common. How you address and solve the problems is crucial.

In your office’s compliance materials, it’s important to keep documentation that details your office’s procedures for identifying, verifying, and handling compliance problems. Accessing these materials quickly could help you address things with more speed.

It’s also important to research and gather information that includes contact and reporting details. Compiling and consulting resources ahead of time could reduce uncertainty and stress when situations occur.

When problems do occur, medical offices should keep them in perspective. If it’s a one-time, honest mistake, they could talk with the employee or employees and help them make corrections so that similar occurrences don’t happen in the future.

If employees make multiple mistakes, or if they’re acting maliciously or in fraudulent ways, your office might need to take more severe steps, such as firing them or reporting them to authorities for further discipline. Such corrections could help protect your patients and office as a whole.

For more information about compliance and other matters, contact Eye Care Leaders. We’ll help you find ways your practice could conform to regulations and operate more efficiently in other ways.

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