Federal legislation is implemented to ensure superior, safe, and reliable patient care. However, for many healthcare organizations, new regulation can feel more like a headache than anything else. In recent years, clinical staff and facilities managers alike have seen an increased amount of time spent on regulatory compliance, which can take away from other valuable initiatives.
In fact, a recent report from the American Hospital Association found that more hospitals say they are burdened by regulatory overload. The study also found that hospitals and other providers spend nearly $39 billion a year solely on administrative activities associated with regulatory compliance.
In an ever-changing world where it’s more important than ever to ensure quality care and fast-evolving service, healthcare providers should consider three key strategies to minimize regulatory overload.
1. Implement a standardized process
One of the most critical things a healthcare organization can do to minimize regulatory overload is to implement a standardized process. Organizations with uniform regulatory compliance plans will find they are significantly less overwhelmed than they were without one.
Without such a plan in place, providers will typically wait until the year before a compliance survey in their facilities to address any compliance issues. This leads to higher costs, scheduling conflicts and a myriad of overtime expenditures. In a nutshell, waiting until the last minute to adopt fundamental regulatory compliance regulations can be a nightmare for healthcare facilities.
Moreover, with a consistent process in place, familiarity will allow providers to feel less overloaded. When an accrediting organization implements a new regulation, your staff will just have to adjust, rather than to recreate. The reality is, if you’re managing your program with standardized processes, you should be able to get through anything.
2. Stay ahead of trends
Typically, healthcare providers only feel overloaded with regulatory compliance after a new requirement comes forth. To combat this feeling, organizations should stay ahead of trends and constantly look for “the next big thing.”
By employing this strategy into healthcare facilities’ plans, organizations will be better prepared to handle any requirement that comes forth, even the unseen. For instance, many were unprepared when The Joint Commission announced their emphasis on ligature risks. For healthcare providers who were not keeping up with this trend or identifying such risks in healthcare settings, this regulation may have come as a complete shock. For those who recognized this development previously, the burden wasn’t quite as heavy.
3. Forge partnerships throughout
Another pain point for many organizations is the line between clinical and physical environment compliance. In a situation where strong partnerships are not forged, organizations could find themselves in the unfortunate situation that fingers are pointed at one another.
Alternatively, when teams unite to develop meaningful relationships, the burden of regulatory compliance will not seem as vast. Developing strong relationship between groups will help to alleviate any regulatory stressors.
For many healthcare organizations, compliance regulations don’t have to be a major burden or headache. By implementing useful and time-saving strategies into a standardized regulatory process, organizations will be able to handle any new regulation introduced.
About the author: Larry Lacombe is the Vice President of Program Development and Facilities Compliance at Medxcel, specializing in facilities management, safety, environment of care, emergency management and compliance.
Medxcel provides healthcare service support products and drives in-house capabilities, savings and efficiencies for healthcare organizations that, in turn, improve the overall healing environment for patients and staff. Lacombe leads the development and implementation of compliance programs that ensures 24/7 survey readiness for a national network of hospitals that Medxcel Facilities Management serves.