Breaking Compliance News Blog

No copycats: Finding your compliance voice

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 12/13/22 8:15 AM

Ask a kid what they want to be when they grow up, and you’ll hear a lot of “I want to sing like Taylor Swift!” and “I want to play football like Tom Brady!” or “I want to go to outer space like Elon Musk!”

It’s good to have a goal, and I want these kids to reach for the stars – as long as they remember what they bring to the table.

Taylor Swift, for example, is an alto. Tom Brady is a quarterback. And Elon Musk has lots of billions of dollars.

If the child is a soprano, she will never sing like Taylor Swift. Only one human in the world can be Taylor Swift. Anyone who tries to sing like Taylor Swift will inevitably fail.

The same is true for the aspiring quarterback who is also an excellent sprinter and would, in fact, make a great running back. And while you don't need billions of dollars to succeed as an entrepreneur and travel to outer space just for fun, the path might look different.

Lest you think I’m the anti-hero, keep this in mind: A child who wants to be a famous singer should use their own unique, beautiful voice. A child who wants to be a professional football player should play lots of football and figure out which position suits their natural talents. And an aspiring entrepreneur should spend their formative years learning which of their unique talents are most likely to translate into a successful business venture.

Cover bands don’t get record deals.

It’s good to have role models and to look elsewhere for inspiration. But what we bring to the table comes from within, that uniqueness, should not be underestimated.

A new Compliance Officer inheriting a decades-old compliance program from an experienced predecessor should soak up the lessons that are handed down. But the new professional should not stop there. He or she should also look inward and ask: What do I bring to this job? What ideas and strengths do I have that will make this program into something new?

New eyes often provide a fresh perspective. What can you change for the better?

Read More

Topics: Compliance Officer & Committee, compliance

Compliance Lessons from Circus Camp

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 4/19/22 8:45 AM

This blog was originally posted on the Compliance and Ethics blog, published by the Health Care Compliance Association and the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.


Last week was Spring Break in my house. We didn’t have travel plans, so my kids went to Circus Camp and Ice Cream Camp at the local performing arts center. Almost as good as the beach.

Every evening after camp, my kids exuberantly regaled us stories of walking on the tightwire, using stilts, juggling, doing “super cool” trampoline jumps, and balancing peacock feathers on their foreheads. They also brought home ice cream, which was a big win for Mom.

On the last day of camp, we were invited to a 15-minute circus show, where we could see what the kids learned. During the show, my daughter waited patiently on the rainbow gym mat while her fellow plate spinners, stilt walkers, and jugglers performed – until it was her turn to walk the tightwire. The time I was most proud of her was not actually when she walked across the tightwire (although that was pretty neat). I was the proudest of her when she was sitting quietly on the sidelines while her friends performed, waiting her turn.

She’s six. That’s a big deal.

She’s a pint-sized ball of energy overflowing with excitement for her new skills – and she still understood that the circus isn’t a solo act. It only works if everyone waits their turn – allowing each individual their turn to shine.

Compliance isn’t a solo act either.

If you are thinking that linking “circus” and “compliance” is one analogy too far, hear me out.

Let’s say you are the Corporate Compliance Officer for a hospital. You have your CHC certification, you have years of experience, you are good at your job, and you are extremely dedicated to it. The hospital is lucky to have you.

You put together a list of the top 10 risks you want to audit this year, rank them by priority, and map out a 12-month plan to complete these audits. The list will keep your auditing department busy, and you feel comfortable that the organization is looking at the top concerns.


Do other leaders agree with your top 10? Do other decision makers think your top 10 align with their top 10? If not, and you spend resources auditing them and find a problem, you might struggle to get support for the corrective action if there is not consensus that it’s a priority.

Let’s say you put together a training plan for the next 12 months. It naturally includes compliance and HIPAA training for new employee orientation, plus annual training on those subjects. You also put together a monthly education campaign with a schedule of topics that will get promoted with tips, flashcards, and flyers. Think of how compliance awareness will grow!


Do managers agree with your 12 months of topics? Maybe you picked social media as a quarterly topic – do managers also see social media as a top concern? Have managers had a chance to weigh in on the areas where employees make mistakes or ask questions? Do these topics vary by department, building, or shift?

Compliance isn’t a solo act.

Compliance depends on committed compliance officers who tirelessly plan, strategize, and come up with new ideas. But our work cannot stop there. We also need to communicate, build relationships and gain trust – reach out, listen, obtain feedback, and secure buy-in. When we take that extra step, the goals and plans we painstakingly make for our organization’s compliance program are far more likely to succeed.

If the plate spinners had come out while a kindergartner was walking across the tightwire, chaos would have ensued, and nobody would sign up for Circus Camp next year. Buy-in would have been lost. Likewise, compliance officers who take their turn, and give others a chance to be heard, will steal the show.

Read More

Topics: Compliance Officer & Committee, compliance

Can you outsource compliance? Should you?

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 1/30/20 11:13 AM



Read More

Topics: Compliance Officer & Committee, Compliance Basics, compliance officer

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.

Read More

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

Is Your Compliance Officer on Speed Dial?

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 2/24/16 9:41 PM

This week, Margaret Scavotto guest blogged for McKnight's. Read the post to learn what can go wrong when the compliance officer is left out of business decisions:

Is Your Compliance Officer on Speed Dial?



 Free  Compliance  Checklist

Read More

Topics: Compliance Officer & Committee

What's On Your Compliance Officer Wish List?

Posted by Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC on 2/3/14 12:36 PM

The Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics and the Health Care Compliance Association, recently published a report: The Relationship between the Board of Directors and the Compliance and Ethics Officer.

Read More

Topics: Compliance Officer & Committee

    Privacy Policy           Terms of Use