16 August 2019
To consistently meet complex and evolving state, local and federal regulations, today’s health care organizations need to do more than just put policies in place and trust they are followed after an employee’s orientation. Compliance with medical waste, patient privacy and security, workplace safety and other regulations requires an organizational culture where meeting compliance standards – regularly and reliably – becomes part of the fabric of day-to-day operations. Not only does this entail observing external rules, but also following internally established ethical standards. By embracing a holistic approach to compliance, organizations can do more than preserve patient and staff safety; they can make sure their organization-wide ethos is rooted in a passion for healthy, secure and respectful operations, laying the foundation for overall organizational success.
Establishing and maintaining a culture of compliance requires a certain level of commitment. Here are a few strategies for generating a framework to nurture a compliance mindset in your health care organization:
Taking a top-down approach, organizational leaders play an important role in compliance efforts, including allocating resources, determining priorities and leading cultural change from the inside out. Although true progress will require participation and dedication from every level, it is important to choose an executive leader to set the tone and infuse the commitment throughout all of an organization’s facilities and networks. To underscore the importance of this work, organizations may want to tie compliance efforts to performance expectations, rewarding employees – health care workers of all levels – for their efforts in fostering a compliant culture.
This team should have the authority and autonomy to set policies, implement programs and resolve issues. Team members should include representatives from across different organizational settings and health care professions to make sure your workforce community is focused on enterprise-wide compliance, not just efforts at one facility. As part of its work, the team should focus on the rules and regulations of external governing bodies (e.g. OSHA and HIPAA) as well as establishing internal standards of conduct that set up guardrails for how the organization functions.
Health care compliance training should be practical, applicable and easy to access. Organizations that enfold real-world examples from diverse settings into their trainings can help staff better apply various rules, systemwide. As part of this education, staff should not only learn how to remain compliant, but also be encouraged to keep vigilant about potential compliance concerns. There should be clear processes on how to handle issues that arise, whether that involves speaking to a coworker and course-correcting on the spot, talking to a supervisor, and following defined reporting procedures. The organization should have safe avenues for sharing concerns, such as with suspicions of drug diversion and patient privacy lapses. Employees should feel confident their input is heard and they are not penalized for speaking up.
Automated solutions can assist with a variety of compliance tasks. For example, online modules can provide accessible training that staff can complete at their convenience. These tools can also document that training occurred, offering an easy way to demonstrate compliance. Similarly, online audit tools can assess compliance with specific rules and regulations, and highlight potential shortfalls that warrant attention.
To instill a compliant philosophy into operations and culture, organizations should constantly communicate about the importance of being compliant and how to practice safe behaviors. This will involve using every opportunity to communicate with staff on the topic—and if it’s possible to make communications interactive and fun, all the better. For example, compliance staff can write a column in the company newsletter, use social media to inform and educate, hang posters in staff break areas, tackle compliance topics in staff meetings and use role-playing games to reinforce points. The more organizations communicate about compliance, the more staff will embrace the idea and think about how to embody a safe mindset each day.
Creating a culture of compliance is a substantial undertaking. Health care organizations must take charge of this work, but they don’t have to face the challenges alone. By leveraging experts like those at Stericycle, an organization can ensure their cultural foundation continually supports safe, healthy, and respectful operations.
Learn how Stericycle’s compliance solutions can help your organization develop a culture of compliance that protects your business today and in the future.
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