Tips For Healthcare Compliance Survey Cost Management

More and more healthcare organizations are realizing the value in conducting compliance effectiveness surveys. Compliance survey tools yield powerful metrics used at identifying strengths and weaknesses in healthcare compliance programs. If done right, a compliance survey is highly cost effective and will provide you a strong return on your investment.

In order to manage healthcare compliance survey costs you must consider time, resources and internal and external support needed for the survey process.  In the article titled “The Most Valuable Compliance Survey Questions,” I discussed the importance of establishing a survey committee to manage the survey process from start (i.e., developing the survey) to finish (i.e., analyzing the results). A key responsibility of the survey committee is managing the healthcare compliance survey costs. Below are several tips the survey committee or compliance officer should consider to effectively manage those costs.

First, make a decision on whether to use a survey vendor or consulting firm. A subject matter expert (SME) can bring much needed experience and expertise to the survey process.  Professionally developed and administered compliance survey tools can cost less than survey tools developed and deployed internally. Partly because survey vendors can amortize the development and deployment costs across all clients, which keeps the cost low for each client. Additionally, survey vendors have reliable compliance survey tools, along with an effective delivery approach that will cut down your own time in the survey process.

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Second, utilize compliance survey tools that are validated by repeated testing. When using a validated and tested compliance survey tool you already know that the compliance survey questions are clear and understandable to employees. Additionally, validated compliance survey tools ensure that the intended outcome of the questions can be achieved. This is extremely important to ensure accurate results. If employees find the questions unclear or confusing they cannot possibly answer the questions correctly, which can lead employees to answering in a haphazard manner.

Anyone can draft survey questions. However, if the questions are not composed correctly then the responses are not useful; thereby, wasting money. Before deploying a compliance survey tool to employees, the survey must first be administered to a focus group for feedback. Taking the extra step to pilot test the survey will provide you with feedback to revise the survey questions. Lengthy hours will be spent drafting survey questions, meeting with focus groups and then revising survey questions. This work is necessary. However, this work would be eliminated when working with a survey vendor because they have already put in the work to test and validate the survey questions.

Third, the compliance survey should not require more than 20 minutes of your employees’ time. There are two reasons why this is important. First, employees are not taken away too long from their job. If the survey pulls employees away from working with patients, assisting families, processing claims it could have a financial impact. Second, data shows that survey participants become disinterested after 30 minutes. Compliance Resource Center, LLC found when analyzing results of surveys that take more than 30 minutes to complete, questions that appear towards the end of surveys are answered in an inconsistent pattern. In cases when employees are not honesty or accurately answering the survey questions, the data is useless for identifying strengths and weakness in your compliance program.

Fourth, benchmarking your own survey’s results against your previous years’ results and/or against your peers’ results is the best use of your data. The purpose of the survey is to provide added value to compliance program metrics. This can be achieved by benchmarking results year over year to identify growths in your compliance program, as well as areas that need attention. Furthermore, your survey’s results should also be benchmarked against your peers’ results. However, this can only be done if your peers complete the same compliance survey template as your organization. Benchmarking against peers’ results can easily be done when using a survey vendor. Benchmarking adds value to the results.

Surveys are the most cost effective way to test employees’ knowledge and understanding, as well as collect opinions and insight from large numbers of employees. Compliance survey results allow you to maximize limited training and communication dollars and staff resources by focusing attention on the areas that generate the greatest risk in your compliance program.