Prevent Healthcare Compliance Issues With Regular Surveys

I often hear from compliance officers looking for new solutions to assist in the prevention of healthcare compliance issues. Often times we are in a routine and utilizing the same solutions and ideas over and over. Looking for fresh ways to enhance your healthcare compliance program can be a challenge. The single best way over the challenge is to conduct an employee healthcare compliance survey. Surveying employees is an effective method to identify unknown healthcare compliance problems and potential areas of ethical uncertainty. Once potential compliance issues have been identified, you are in an ideal position to implement healthcare compliance solutions.

Utilization of surveys is not necessarily a new idea since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General has been advocating the use of healthcare compliance surveys for years. However, few organizations undertake surveys on a regular basis and with the specific purpose to understand the compliance culture of their organization. Introducing a recurring healthcare compliance survey provides employees an avenue share their views and perception of the compliance program.

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A compliance culture survey measures employees’ perceptions, attitudes and values that guide their thinking and behavior within your organization. Overtime, the results can reveal changes in the organization’s culture driven by changes in the compliance program, training, the hotline program, and policies and compliance documents. In order to gain a clear view of the organization’s culture, the compliance culture survey should be distributed to the entire employee population or a sample universe comprised of all employee levels within the organization.

Culture surveys typically utilize Likert scale answer choices, ranging from Strongly Agree down to Strongly Disagree. Because you are soliciting employees’ perception and attitudes, the Likert scale response measures their level of agreement to a particular compliance area. Each response on the Likert scale has a numerical value that is then used in analyzing the results. It is important to include reverse-scored, as well as validator items designed to ensure that employees are being candid in their responses. If the correct answer is Strongly Agree/Agree, employees may stop reading the questions and simply answer Strongly Agree/Agree, hindering the value of the survey.

The focus of the compliance culture survey is to measures employees’ perceptions, attitudes and values. Therefore, the results should provide a clear picture of what guides their thinking and behavior. Questions should touch on a number of issues that relate to them personally, their immediate work group, their supervisor and the management of the company. Such areas should include:

  • Personal job satisfaction
  • Compliance with laws and regulations
  • Quality of care/service
  • Employee communication
  • Management practices
  • Human resources practices

These six compliance dimensions are useful to measure the compliance culture and act as a general diagnostic tool to identify organization strengths and areas warranting special attention. Areas identified as needing further attention should be added to the healthcare compliance plan or an annual audit plan.

It is recommended to conduct a culture survey every three to five years. Since the organization’s culture does not change significantly from year to year it is not recommended to conduct this type of survey on an annual basis. However, consideration should be made if your organization goes through an acquisition or a major organizational restructure.