In addition to standard, cross-industry risk and compliance issues, the healthcare industry has turned into an alphabet soup of regulatory standards – such as HIPAA, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), Stark III and corporate integrity agreements (CIAs). Facing an increasing burden of regulations, liability and audits, healthcare organizations are struggling to manage the host of legal and compliance obligations related to patient safety, privacy, information security and electronic medical record management.
Healthcare providers need to proactively manage compliance and better prepare themselves for audits. While governance, risk and compliance (GRC) products are available for the large hospital networks, most GRC systems are too expensive and unwieldy for smaller entities. Yet, the compliance mandates do not discriminate – they are just as stringent for healthcare institutions of all sizes. With new healthcare reform regulations constantly being released, integrating and correlating data from multiple sources and systems into a single view is essential to effectively safeguard patient records and manage compliance risk factors.
Fighting responsibility division
Today, many providers take a fragmented approach – resulting in reactive, complex, inefficient processes for healthcare compliance. Redundant monitoring and assessment activities, coupled with poor reporting and accountability, create a risk environment that is extremely susceptible to vulnerabilities and vastly more expensive in the long-term. It is like trying to stop the bleeding from a cut artery by slapping on a Band-Aid.
The typical healthcare organization faces an overwhelming range of assessment and reporting requirements to try to combat those risks. As regulatory exposure, increased liability, heavy fines and stressful audits continue to surge, healthcare organizations need to prove that their compliance processes are designed and operating effectively to minimize risk and mitigate data security breaches. But the standard manual, ad hoc approach to GRC results in siloed risk and compliance initiatives. Furthermore, there will be disparate technologies and processes, poor visibility across the organization, wasted resources and, most concerning for patient safety, greater exposure and vulnerability.
Curing the compliance headache
Healthcare organizations of all sizes need to address the increasingly complex issues of regulatory compliance and risk management by looking at how risk and compliance processes can be architected to meet organization-wide needs. Integrating and correlating data from multiple sources and systems into a single view is essential to effectively safeguard patient records and manage compliance risk factors.
Healthcare organizations should create effective and efficient risk and compliance processes by implementing an integrated GRC infrastructure that crosses healthcare compliance mandates and organizational silos. Doing so will provide:
- A better understanding of if/how changing regulations impact the organization
- The ability to quickly integrate assessments/reporting changes mapped to regulations
- Advanced capabilities to discover vulnerabilities and incidents quickly, ensuring proper tracking and remediation
- A streamlined vendor management process with integrated policies, risk assessments, audits and reporting
- A single, automated repository for documentation, interactions and reporting with outside regulators and enforcement agencies
- Ways to effectively manage and communicate policies – keeping policies current and employees properly trained for remediation and emergency procedures
Taking an incremental approach, healthcare organizations can methodically put an effective GRC plan and process into place. Demonstrating consistent risk and compliance achievements shows continual progress, even in the face of ongoing patient data breaches. Tapping advanced software tools built specifically to quickly address the risk and compliance needs of cash-strapped healthcare organizations, organizations can get a consolidated view of risk and compliance, manage regulations, and minimize data breaches and resulting litigation.
Chris Caldwell, Co-Founder and CEO of LockPath, was previously the president and COO of PPM Information Solutions.