Spring appears to be making its way to Iowa. The snow is melting and the days are getting longer. It has been a long cold winter. It is always interesting to see what is hidden under the snow when it finally melts. Maybe it is a can that was thrown from a passing car, or several lost baseballs that were not retrieved before the first snowfall, or maybe it is an accumulation of, let’s just call them “deposits”, from the dog that were hidden from view by the snow! Whatever treasures are revealed, they must be dealt with to keep the yard clean.
As we come out of the pandemic, and hopefully regain some degree of normalcy, many compliance programs are coming out from under the snow, so to speak, and some surprises are being revealed. Let’s face it, over the last two years, the primary focus of much of the world of health care has been keeping its collective head above water, dealing with regulations that seem to change on a daily basis, and just trying to keep enough staff to provide quality care. While we may not want to admit it, in some instances, compliance has taken a back seat. I don’t mean that providers have ignored applicable regulations, or have intentionally cut corners that violate laws. Rather, when providers had to choose between COVID protocols to keep staff and clients/patients safe, and auditing HR files to ensure the appropriate background checks were completed, taking care of people is going to win out every time. During the last two years providers have operated with skeleton crews, and for many, a decision had to be made; some aspects of the compliance program got pushed to the back burner.
Just like the fact I need to pay some attention to my yard now that I can clearly see what was hiding beneath all that snow, it is time to fire up the compliance committee, review the compliance program policies, and make sure what is happening now is what the procedures say should be happening. An active auditing and monitoring program is one of the seven elements of an effective program so it is time to dust off those checklists and find out if any vulnerabilities have snuck in over the last two years.
Many organizations did a great job of keeping their compliance program energized during the pandemic, but for some it is time to clean the yard.