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Best Practices for Compliance Training

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 9:00 AM

Billing, Coding & Compliance, Practice Operations

Written by: Elizabeth Monroe

Elizabeth Monroe
Senior Consultant

If your practice struggles with scheduling and completing compliance training, now is the time to ensure you achieve success in 2020. After all, the practice has a legal obligation to ensure that staff is prepared to protect the safety and welfare of themselves and patients. To help you get started, I’ve outlined a few important pointers below to get your practice following a comprehensive training plan in no time. 

Begin with OSHA, HIPAA, and FWA training.

If your practice has not focused on compliance training previously, start by targeting these three critical programs:

The goal of these programs is to educate your employees on laws, regulations, and practice policies that apply to their day-to-day jobs in the clinic.

Develop a staff training program.

As you design your compliance training plan for 2020, there are two things to consider:

  1. The time(s) of year that will work best for your team. Some practices try to target times when physicians are out of the office to schedule training. Meanwhile, other clinics may find value in planning mandatory compliance training on a specific day or month each year. Your practice’s size, number of locations, and available office hours will dictate how to schedule training. The critical point here is to plan and follow through with training.
  2. The training method(s) that will be most effective. While there are many compliance training options, I have seen practices use OSHA, HIPAA, and FWA compliance courses on BSM Connection® with the most success. This online resource (and others like it) provides more flexibility by allowing staff to take compliance courses at their leisure and print their certificates of completion. Regardless of the training program you use, practices should require staff to take a quiz that requires an 80 percent or higher passing score to demonstrate their proficiency in the subject matter. Personally, I always encourage employees to retake the test until they achieve a 100 percent score.

If your staff completes online training, be sure to schedule in-person meetings to discuss topics specific to your practice. For instance, team members need to know where the practice keeps its spill kits, sharps containers, and personal protective equipment. This knowledge will come in handy if the time comes to act.  

Invest in training.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the federal Wage and Hour Law, requires practices pay staff for compliance training. While you may want to ask your team to complete online courses at home, the practice must pay staff for mandatory training. As such, the business should budget for payroll as well as time, resources, and training materials to execute training. If your practice did not include staff training and development in its 2020 budget, consider retroactively adding this expense. Not only will staff appreciate the training, but they will provide better patient care by meeting industry standards for safety and confidentiality.

Make training fun!

For most of us, compliance training is dull. Regardless, OSHA, HIPAA, and FWA training is essential to patient care and staff well-being and must be done. Instead of teaching compliance topics quickly to meet the requirement, consider taking the time to ensure everyone understands how to act in various situations. For example, how should a staff member respond if there is an accidental needle stick? What should an employee do if she accidentally leaves a packet of surgery charts on a city bus? How do you clean up a patient accident in an exam lane? What happens if a staff member suspects fraud? And so on.

The best way to make information “stick” is to make training fun. Some practices elect to host a “Game Day,” where their creative staff orchestrates games related to OSHA, HIPAA, and FWA. I recommend using compliance versions of “Jeopardy” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” from BSM Connection® to keep staff engaged and learning.

If you choose to play games with your staff, consider assigning members from multiple departments to each team (e.g., one side might have a tech, scribe, front desk, checkout, and billing person). This approach allows for team building and ensures that each group has a wide range of expertise and knowledge. Additionally, consider awarding the winning team gift cards to a local store or restaurant to serve as a participation incentive.

Have staff document their training.

Be sure to document when each staff member completes the appropriate compliance training. Creating a tracking log and asking staff members to sign their names as they complete training can prove useful. Depending on the program, some online training tools may allow you to print a staff list with their exam scores, confirming that each staff member has completed his or her required training.

Plan for new hires.

While providing annual compliance training is essential, practices must also incorporate OSHA, HIPAA, and FWA training when onboarding new hires. Before interacting with patients, new employees should receive the same training as established employees. This training plan might include the completion of online courses followed by a one-on-one discussion with a trainer. Lastly, managers should quiz all new employees to ensure they understand the critical, required information.

Keep current on compliance news.

Periodically, the governing bodies of OSHA (the Department of Labor), HIPAA (the Department of Health and Human Services), and FWA (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services/Office of Inspector General) will make revisions or updates to the regulations of their respective programs. To stay up to date on changes, you can sign up for email alerts. For example, the Department of Labor sends out an OSHA newsletter twice a month. Additionally, practices can find great resources and updates through memberships with the American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA) or the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives (AAOE).

Ensure a prosperous 2020. As you think about your goals for 2020, plan to become compliant in OSHA, HIPAA, and FWA. If you are already compliant, the new year is a good time to ensure that your plan works and that you included every staff member in your training. Once your team is up to date, everyone can go about their work with confidence. 

WE CAN HELP. Visit our Staff Training Overview page to learn about all the training resources we offer. 

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