The Changing Environment of Healthcare Facilities Compliance

Written by: Ryan King, Senior Associate, GCS Consulting | NGKF

The status-quo has no place in the healthcare sector. Every healthcare organization is continuously adapting, modernizing internal processes and leveraging technology to meet the demands of an ever-evolving and ever-more-stringent regulatory environment. The stakes don’t get any higher; failure to comply with Joint Commission standards jeopardizes vital funding streams and, more importantly, compromises patient safety.

In a departure from the Joint Commission’s previous requirement that a healthcare organization simply produce documentation verifying that it is taking remedial action on an issue flagged during an audit, new Joint Commission methodologies place the organization in immediate violation and specify a 60-day period for providing Evidence of Standards Compliance. In cases of high-risk findings, an organization must also demonstrate how it will sustain the corrective actions.

This new compliance methodology requires a dynamic response from Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) and facility compliance groups. Yet while verifying adherence to the new standards places a premium on data mining, integration and transparency, as well as real-time reporting, many EHS and facility compliance administrators find themselves hindered by disparate legacy application systems and databases and by manual reporting processes. Gone are the days of reacting ad hoc to Joint Commission audits; the emphasis now is on preventative and predictive issue resolution - on automation, standardization and data/application integration within a healthcare facility’s inspection regime.

Leading healthcare organizations are taking a two-track approach toward adapting to the demands of this new compliance paradigm.

Track 1 - Analyzing, harmonizing and optimizing internal processes. Different groups within the large, diverse organizations likely carry out inspections, generate inspection reports and distribute those reports differently. Standardized processes streamline decision-making and expose analytics that can be exploited to inform better decisions.

Track 2 - Creating a centralized repository for inspection data, an integrated technology platform. Organizations can optimize how data, standard compliance requirements, inspection findings and corrective actions across the entire EHS group are collected, entered and accessed, perhaps by utilizing such tools as mobile devices.

Of course, the story doesn’t end here. Joint Commission standards will continue to change, ensuring that EHS organizations change with them. The concept of “World-class” EHS is a moving target in the healthcare sector; a continuous journey, rather than a final destination.

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