Breaking Compliance News Blog

Compliance and HIPAA Training Handbooks are Here!

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 4/16/19 9:17 AM

MPA's Compliance and HIPAA training handbooks for healthcare staff are here!

 

Help your staff get HIPAA right, all day, every day.

MPA noticed that most HIPAA training doesn't cover the top calls we get: snooping, selfies, social media, and other common breaches.

This HIPAA training handbook won't tell your staff that HIPAA was enacted in 1996 - because that won't help your staff make good HIPAA decisions on a daily basis. This handbook will, however, provide common sense HIPAA information your staff need to succeed in healthcare.

Each chapter is accompanied by a mini-quiz to test staff knowledge.

Learn more.

 

Help your staff get compliance right, all day, every day.

MPA noticed that most compliance training does not cover the daily risks most healthcare staff encounter - or is written in legalese that is challenging for many healthcare employees.

This training handbook won't tell your staff that OIG stands for "Office of Inspector General," because that isn't going to help most of your staff understand compliance. This handbook will break down compliance concepts in simple, understandable chapters to help them do their jobs in a way that follows your compliance program. 

Each chapter is accompanied by a mini-quiz to test staff knowledge.

Learn more.

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Topics: Compliance Basics, Training and Education, HIPAA, Culture of Compliance, MPA's Compliance Store

I’ll have a brown sugar rosemary latte and a HIPAA breach, please.

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 3/12/19 8:43 AM

The other day I stopped by my favorite local coffee shop for an afternoon pick-me-up. I ordered my guilty pleasure – a brown sugar rosemary latte – and sat down in the only available seat on the lobby couch to wait.

A few minutes later, a young woman came in and sat down next to me, opened her laptop, and began clack-clacking away (a common occurrence, as this coffee place is known as an unofficial co-working space).

I got up to get my latte, sat back down, and noticed that the woman was on the phone. I began reading an article about a recent HIPAA breach (in a moment you will learn the irony in this), and tried not to be distracted by her call. But, I couldn’t help but notice she seemed to be talking about a patient. She mentioned the patient’s name and birthday, and then scheduled an appointment for him. She went on to do this for several other patients. Then she called a few patients to check on their condition and well-being. I also couldn’t help but notice that she was typing information into some kind of EMR database.

If this was a cartoon, my head would have exploded at this moment.

When my disbelief faded into the reality that this person – perhaps some kind of case worker or social worker – was in fact discussing patients and their health care information – I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Does this really happen? Am I on some kind of brainy reality TV show for HIPAA professionals? How could two people sitting on the same couch have such different reactions to these phone calls? How could I be so appalled – and this woman be oblivious and even pleased to be accomplishing so much?

I’ll tell you why: awareness and training.

I think about HIPAA all the time. I follow HIPAA settlements and headlines daily, blog about them, and build training programs and policies around them. So, I see HIPAA everywhere.

I don’t know what kind of HIPAA training my couch neighbor has had. It could be she was trained extensively and chose to ignore the advice. Or perhaps it is more likely that she wasn’t trained on HIPAA – or at least, not recently – and not on protecting patient privacy when working remotely.

What about your staff? Would they know what to do?

 

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Topics: Training and Education, HIPAA, Culture of Compliance

Margaret Scavotto writes for HCCA: Compliance When Nobody is Watching

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 2/13/19 8:54 AM

Compliance When Nobody is Watching

by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC

Everyone knows an effective compliance program needs leaders, policies, training, audits, reporting, investigations, corrective action, and discipline.

You probably already have these elements in place. You have policies and training to help your employees do the right thing. You have audits to verify that your employees are following compliance policies (and doing the right thing). 

Read more here.

For Compliance Today: Copyright 2019 Compliance Today, a publication of the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA).

 

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Topics: Culture of Compliance

10,000 steps to compliance

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 1/23/19 7:51 AM

Don’t be discouraged by the title - this story is actually (hopefully) encouraging.

When I first got my Fitbit, I learned I averaged 5,000 to 6,000 steps a day. A few times a week I’d get far more than that, but my weekday average could be better.

Around Thanksgiving 2018, I decided to pick up the pace and set a goal of reaching 10,000 steps a day - no matter what.

I went to Zumba at the Y (7,000 steps), walked around my in-laws’ pond (1,000 steps), walked up and down the stairs at my office (100 steps), and danced around the kitchen (as many steps as it took).

I hit 10,000 steps 14 days in a row. And then I kept going. I of course have an off day every now and then. But overall, I feel better when I find the time to get 10,000 steps. And over time, it’s become easier to work this into my day.

What does this have to do with compliance?

Compliance professionals often tell me: I start working on compliance, but then I get distracted and weeks go by. I start working on an audit and then something else comes up and by the time I get back into the audit, I have to re-learn the entire process. I want to spend more time on compliance, but there is just so much else to do.

The problem here is that compliance needs to be part of our daily routine, no matter what. 

By consistently reaching a small goal (10,000 steps a day), I achieved a bigger goal: I lost 10 pounds. Compliance is the same way. If you commit to working on compliance consistently - even slowly but surely - over time, you will be rewarded with bigger results.

Here are some ways you can commit to compliance every day – and achieve big goals over time:

  • In 5 minutes, you can go over a compliance tip, question or flash card with an employee, making a positive connection with compliance and reinforcing compliance knowledge.
  • In 10 minutes, you can walk the halls and increase your visibility as Compliance Officer.
  • In 20 minutes, you can conduct a HIPAA walk-through audit of a department.
  • In 30 minutes, you can review a policy with an employee.

Make room for small tasks, and watch your compliance program meet big goals in 2019.

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Topics: Compliance Officer & Committee, Compliance Basics, Culture of Compliance

MPA's gift to you: Free compliance video on perks and presents

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 12/11/18 7:29 AM

I like presents.

Giving them, getting them, even writing thank you notes for them.

But in healthcare, presents are tricky.

That is why, this holiday season, MPA is sharing a compliance video with you. You are welcome to share this video with your staff to help them navigate patient and vendor gifts, freebies and perks this holiday season.

Perks and Presents

 

 

Want to do more to cultivate a culture of compliance?

MPA's Compliance Flash Cards are here...

     .... choose card-stock or digital download:

compliance flash cards sample 1

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Topics: Culture of Compliance

Compliance Officer Interview: Connie Rhoads and Pet Posters!

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 12/5/18 7:45 AM

Today I am going to tell you about the best compliance culture idea I have ever heard: Pet Posters.

That's right: Using employee pet photos to create posters promoting compliance.

This idea is clever, charming, motivating, effective - and the brainchild of Connie Rhoads, Vice President of Corporate Compliance at Christian Horizonsa senior living provider in the Midwest.

 

I interviewed Connie to learn more about how she came up with Pet Posters and how it has been a success at Christian Horizons. (Side note: Connie and I agree that the Ghostbusters poster is our favorite - but it's hard to pick just one).

Margaret: How did you come up with Pet Posters?

Connie:

I attended a webinar that shared examples from companies who achieved significant impact from small changes to their compliance programs. One of the companies shared their updated compliance hotline poster. They had simply changed the picture on their poster from a rotary phone to a picture of a puppy with its head tilted, as if it was unsure of something. Simply changing the picture was enough to capture their associates' attention. The Compliance Department started receiving appropriate concerns when previously a hotline call was a rarity. 

That was my inspiration! I thought to myself, everyone loves pets, especially their own, so I came up with the ‘Is Your Pet Destined for Stardom?’ Compliance Poster Contest.  Our marketing team created a flyer for the contest and poster templates. I also created a page of suggested slogans. Associates simply had to insert their pet photo into the template, add the slogan, save it and send it in.  We included credits to the ‘Celebrity’ and their owner on each poster. 

Margaret: How long have you been using the Pet Poster program?

Connie: 

Our inaugural promotion was for Compliance and Ethics Week 2016; 2018 is our third year.

Margaret: Have you had any participation obstacles – and how have you overcome them?

Connie:

Yes - a few. 

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Topics: Culture of Compliance

Compliance Flash Cards are now available in card-stock!

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 11/28/18 8:33 AM

Grow employee knowledge and build a culture of compliance with MPA's Compliance Flash Cards! 

 

The Compliance Flash Cards have been so popular, we have decided to offer them in print! Order now and a set of Compliance Flash Cards will be mailed to you.

  • Incorporate Compliance Flash Cards into new employee orientation and annual compliance training
  • Walk the halls and use the Compliance Flash Cards to have small conversations with staff - increasing compliance awareness and Compliance Officer visibility

MPA's Compliance Flash Cards include:

  • 3 Flash Cards address reporting non-compliance

  • 2 Flash Cards address abuse (1 specifically for SNFs)

  • 4 Flash Cards address Resident Rights in SNFs

  • 5 Flash Cards address documentation, including 2 specifically for SNFs

  • 10 Flash Cards address HIPAA

  • 10 Flash Cards address HIPAA & Social Media (including 4 specifically for hospitals and 4 specifically for SNFs)

  • 1 Flash Card addresses Quality Care

  • 1 Flash Card addresses False Claims

  • 2 Flash Cards address Kickbacks

For digital flash cards, click here.

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Topics: Culture of Compliance

The perils of “Good” compliance results

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 10/23/18 2:54 PM

The set of NBC’s hit TV series The Office includes an office suite (where many hijinks ensue) and an attached warehouse. In Season 2, Episode 5, office manager Michael Scott visits the warehouse and causes colossal destruction with a forklift.

Then, much to warehouse foreman Darryl Philbin’s chagrin, a warehouse employee erases the “936” on a sign that reads: “THIS DEPARTMENT HAS WORKED 936 DAYS WITHOUT A LOST TIME ACCIDENT” and replaces it with a big fat Zero.

This scene raises a nuanced compliance issue. The sign touting 936 days since an accident is an example of identifying – and celebrating – a compliance success. Presumably, accidents were avoided because employees adhered to safety protocols.

But, does this sign also encourage employees not to report accidents? Daryl will be pretty unhappy the next time someone has to put a “zero” on the accident sign – and everyone knows it. Nobody wants to be known as the person who broke the winning streak. This is an unintended consequence of the Zero Accidents sign.

The same is true for compliance: healthcare organizations that have months with zero compliance reports could have a problem.

We of course want to celebrate good metrics and results – but how do we do that while still encouraging people to report problems?

A goal of zero hotline calls deters people from finding and reporting problems. The unintended message is: Don’t report. This means that if your compliance dashboard repeatedly shows zero compliance reports – you should raise an eyebrow, not a glass.

Instead, we need to discuss compliance goals in a way that encourages reporting and discovering non-compliance. Perhaps our goal should be to encourage reporting instead of having Zero reporting. You can support this goal by promoting reporting options (and your anonymity, confidentiality and non-retaliation policies). And, you will still find things to celebrate:

  • Thank those who report
  • Add compliance reporting to performance reviews
  • Recognize efforts to promptly investigate and respond to reports 
  • Celebrate improvement

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Topics: Hotline, Culture of Compliance

Compliance when nobody is watching

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 10/11/18 7:42 AM

Everyone knows an effective compliance program needs policies, training, leaders, audits, reporting, investigations, corrective action and discipline. You probably already have these elements in place.

You have policies and training to help your employees do the right thing.

You have audits to verify that your employees are following compliance policies (and doing the right thing).

You have a compliance hotline or other reporting mechanism to find out when employees aren't doing the right thing. And when that happens, you use your investigations, discipline and corrective action policies.

Many of us put these crucial compliance elements in place, cross our fingers, and hope our employees are doing the right thing.

But how do we motivate employees to do the right thing when nobody is watching? After all, most of the time, nobody is watching. And isn't the purpose of compliance to help employees do the right thing - whether somebody is watching or not?

Policies, annual training, audits and a reporting mechanism are a good start. They are essential. But they are not enough to motivate staff to do the right thing all the time. Your challenge as a Compliance Officer is to make compliance part of daily life for your team. How can we help employees understand compliance every day?

Meet employees where they are. Incorporate helpful compliance reminders into their workflow. Would a shift-change chat work? Flyers in the bathroom stalls? (There's nothing else to read in there....) Does the Compliance Officer walk the halls and take a couple of minutes to go over basic compliance concepts with staff? What about displaying short compliance messages on a digital photo frame, or compliance videos on an iPad? Training does not have to be an in-service to be effective.

In the era of social media, infotainment and information overload, compliance has to make some noise. Think outside the box for ways to keep compliance top-of-mind, and help staff do the right thing when nobody is watching.

Compliance Flash Cards are here!

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Topics: Culture of Compliance

Margaret Scavotto writes for HCCA: Boost your compliance culture with Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 8/7/18 6:32 AM

Margaret Scavotto authored an article for the August issue of HCCA's Compliance Today: Boost your compliance culture with Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week.

An excerpt is below:

Does your compliance program have a brand, a theme, a slogan, a message, or a logo? It should. A compliance message makes staff aware of the purpose of compliance and keeps it in the forefront. If someone from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) walked into your organization and said to the nearest employee, “Tell me about your compliance program,” what would they hear? How long would it take for that employee to explain your compliance program to the OIG? Would it be a challenging task? A clear compliance message is easier for everyone to understand and articulate.

Here’s a message that I like: “Compliance is here to help.” It’s not that snappy, and it won’t blow your mind, but it’s true, positive, and easy to remember. In a highly regulated industry like healthcare, an employee’s work can feel daunting. Healthcare employees face a daily mountain of potential HIPAA violations, mind-bending questions about arrangements with referral sources, quality assurance challenges, and ethical conundrums.

A compliance program that feels like a hammer makes this worse and makes an employee’s work harder. Compliance should make things easier. And it can!  

You can read the entire article here.

For Compliance Today: Copyright 2018 Compliance Today, a publication of the Health Care Compliance Association (HCCA).

Click to learn more and be the first to hear when the store launches.

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Topics: Compliance Basics, Culture of Compliance

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