By | November 27, 2019

Risk management in business is defined as the “process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization’s capital and earnings.” For hospitals, regulatory compliance requirements are at or near the top of this list, as healthcare is one of the most heavily regulated of all industries due to the care provided to vulnerable populations.

Recent items in the news highlight the critical need for hospital systems and healthcare organizations of all kinds to be vigilant, as issues such as documentation of suicide screening and assessment must meet compliance standards, or else facilities run the risk of tragic consequences for patients, as well as citations which can result in penalties such as the preliminary denial of accreditation status.

With this past Saturday’s designation as International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, now is a particularly good time to review the Joint Commission’s Suicide Prevention Portal, a resource for organizations seeking to be in compliance with NPSG 15.01.01 (changes effective July 1, 2019) and the Suicide Risk Recommendations from the Suicide Risk Reduction Expert Panel.

Relias is well acquainted with the issue of suicide prevention, having partnered in 2018 with the Zero Suicide Alliance UK to create an award-winning training course. Relias also has a suite of suicide prevention tools and resources to help organizations address the issue.

For organizations in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry, the challenges of maintaining compliance with the myriad regulations and governing bodies is a full-time job. To support a complete culture of compliance, examine and invest in workflow tools that keep you ahead of the regulatory curve with real-time updates and alerts; maintain program consistency across all your facilities, and; support your existing staff to efficiently and effectively manage the complex processes involved in maintaining regulatory compliance.

Here are seven simple steps you can take to help your compliance efforts run smoothly:

1) Make it easy to find the right courses

Finding the right courses based on state and federal requirements is challenging—especially if you’re not an expert in compliance training. To avoid being overwhelmed, keep in mind the following:

  • Use training libraries specific to your regulatory needs.
  • Use a “crosswalk”—a referencing tool you can sort by profession to easily look up the accredited courses you need based on your federal and state guidelines.
  • Use pre-built, customizable training plan templates so you have a place to start without recreating the wheel.
  • Use a reliable content provider to keep training materials relevant and consistently up to date.
  • Blend online training with your own company-specific live training.

2) Make it convenient for employees to take courses

Convenient access to training is more important than ever. Employees traveling off-site to visit clients often don’t have time to come to the office to complete training. They may also miss live training events— for which instructors are specially paid and hired—and must find similar trainings off-site to remain compliant. This costs both the employee and employer time and money. To avoid these pitfalls, organizations can:

  • Provide online courses that are available 24/7 and accessible from anywhere.
  • Auto-enroll employees in courses so they don’t have to—a time saver for them and you.
  • Videotape or record live training events and upload them to a learning management system so you no longer have to send employees off-site if they miss it.
  • Provide a user-friendly, intuitive system that employees can easily navigate; including the option to save and go back.

3) Automate course reminders

Instead of spending your time reminding staff to complete their training, use automated reminders to do the job for you. This simple idea features:

  • Easy, one-time setup
  • Customizable

4) Create smart dashboards for tracking

Without establishing an easy tracking method for training, maintaining compliance becomes nearly impossible, potentially leading to costly penalties. Tracking allows you to know where your organization currently stands in order to address and correct it.

To avoid noncompliance issues later, be proactive by creating customized charts to quickly and easily track compliance at-a-glance.

5) Use audit-ready reporting

Are you manually creating spreadsheets in Excel to report on training? Save time by using an automated reporting system.

  • Keep managers and staff on the same page with scheduled, customizable reports.
  • Avoid sifting through employee files and spreadsheets by keeping all of your training records in one place.
  • Be well-prepared for audits with one-click compliance reports, including reports that capture the demonstration of job-specific skills, which is crucial in an increasingly outcome-driven field.

6) Keep employees engaged

Compliance training isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. When employees are bearing heavy workloads on a daily basis, training is the last thing they want to do, no matter how crucial it may be. The key concept here is to provide employees with engaging content. Use interactive scenarios. Incorporate video and graphics.

7) Manage policies and procedures electronically

Are you keeping track of your policies and procedures by storing hard copies in large, dusty binders? Is it a hassle to make sure employees have reviewed and signed them to remain compliant?

Maximize the benefits of a learning management system by including policies and procedures directly within the system.

  • Auto-enroll employees upon hire (and on a recurring basis) to ensure compliance.
  • Upload, assign, review, and report on policies and procedures directly within your learning management system.
  • Use built-in version control to easily keep track of updates or changes.

 

Whether the issue is suicide prevention or something else, proper training is the key to ensuring compliance issues don’t lead to negative patient outcomes and financial risk.

Corinne Epton, MA, MHA, CHC

Regulatory Consultant, Relias

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