Compliance in a medical setting is essential. This can include everything from compliance regarding the disposal of medical waste, to HIPAA standards. Even small, family practices with one or two care providers need to have an in-depth standardized compliance in place, not only to avoid potential regulatory issues but also to keep employees and patients safe and well-cared for.

It’s also important for most medical offices to ensure they have rigorous compliance plans in place in order to participate in programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The following are some tips and guidelines to keep in mind to create a clear, concrete compliance plan in a medical office or setting of any size.

Select a Compliance Officer

One of the biggest reasons medical practices fail regarding full compliance is because they don’t appoint someone as a compliance officer.

It’s important to designate one person to fill this role, because they’ll be able to organize compliance-related issues and actions, and other employees will have a point person to go to if they have questions or concerns.

When selecting a compliance officer, it’s a good idea to choose someone such as a nurse or office manager, and then provide them with in-depth training.

Responsibilities of a compliance officer include not only developing but also implementing the entirety of a compliance program.

The ideal candidate is someone who has knowledge not only of the clinical elements of the practice but also some level of understanding of the business and billing processes.

Create Written Standards

Your compliance plan needs to be as specific, well-documented and standardized as possible. To achieve this, having written guidelines and manuals is important. This provides an easy source for training new employees, and printed materials can also be used as a reference by existing employees.

These written standards should be regularly reviewed to ensure they continue to meet the needs of your practice.

Train Employees and Keep Records

Along with outlining the standards and procedures required in the practice, training employees and keeping detailed records of this training is one of the most important elements of a successful compliance plan.

Choose a method of training that works best for your organization. Many medical practices will contract with their medical waste services provider for compliance training, or they might combine third-party training with some level of self-paced learning or e-Learning.

Define How Non-Compliance Is Handled

Just as a compliance plan should include detailed information about how employees can remain compliant and address the specific risks of the medical practice, there should also be details included regarding how non-compliance is handled.

A good compliance plan will outline standards for how issues will be reported and then subsequently treated. For example, will disciplinary action be taken? Will there be retraining to deal with noncompliance? What will the investigation look like if something is reported?

Having a compliance plan in place is necessary for all medical practices, as a means to define employee behaviors as well as how potential issues will be tackled if they should arise.