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How To Develop Effective Compliance Plans for Small Medical Practices

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Finding time to focus on compliance management is a challenge. Researching effective compliance measures can take days. However, developing robust compliance plans for small dental medical practices is crucial to ensure regulatory adherence, protect patient privacy, and uphold ethical standards. A few healthcare compliance tips are outlined below:

Guidelines and Standards of Conduct

Policies, regulatory guidelines, protocols, and standards of conduct define the expected behavior of the practice and the dental team.

For HIPAA, the practice must be able to detail the handling and protection of sensitive patient information. The practice should also be able to take necessary steps and actions in case of a breach.

OSHA compliance regulations demand that a practice needs to be able to manage hazard protection, disinfection procedures, and the reporting of injuries or illnesses.

Staying updated as compliance norms keep evolving

The practice must frequently track regulatory changes and industry best practices to keep its compliance plan up-to-date and effective. Joining professional organizations and subscribing to industry publications can help you stay informed. The practice can also outsource services from healthcare compliance consulting services such as Capline Dental Services while it focuses on core competencies.

Designating a dedicated team member to be responsible for compliance

It makes business sense for a practice to keep any responsible team member as a dedicated Compliance Officer. This individual can ensure that the practice adheres to all policies, procedures, and standards of conduct as well as oversee both HIPAA and OSHA compliance.

The individual can also be accountable for addressing reported breaches or incidents and implementing remedial actions. The same individual can oversee both HIPAA and OSHA compliance.

Periodic training for the dental team

The entire dental team must undergo HIPAA and OSHA training as this safeguards both the employees and the patients. A lack of proper training can place the practice at risk of breaches. The patients and staff can both suffer from preventable injuries or illnesses. It is recommended that employees should receive training annually or whenever there are process changes in the practice.

If the office transitions from traditional modes of physical records to maintaining digital files, the practice needs to update its policies and procedures. The team
also needs to be trained on the new system so that patient confidentiality is maintained as per guidelines.

Handling of data security

The practice must deploy stringent data security measures to safeguard patient data. These may comprise data encryption, access controls, security assessments, and team training on managing data security.

Responding to Offenses and Corrective Action

HIPAA and OSHA have defined specific standards for reporting and responding to any incident or breach that might occur. As per HIPAA, the team needs to promptly report any breach in patient information.

If a breach affects 500 or more patients, then the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) must be informed within 60 days of discovery. Breaches involving fewer than 500 patients must be documented through the course of the year and reported by the first day of March of the following year to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). In both scenarios, however, the patient will have to be notified within 60 days of the breach being discovered.

OSHA’s reporting requirements for injuries and illnesses for OSHA can vary widely and differ from incident to incident. Some injuries must be reported immediately, while others may be allowed a grace period.

Audits and monitoring by the dental team

The dental team must ensure that the practice observes compliance standards and expectations. This enables the practice to avoid committing violations and paying penalties thereafter. The practice needs to regularly conduct risk assessments and monitor activities that confirm all HIPAA and OSHA guidelines have been met.

These assessments can track deficiencies in your policies, processes, and standards of conduct. Additionally, whenever there are changes in business practices, a risk assessment is vital to identify potential vulnerabilities.

Effective maintenance of all documentation

The practice must maintain detailed records of compliance activities that include employee training modules, audits, and any instances of non-compliance. Documentation is vital for outlining compliance measures undertaken by the practice in case of an audit or investigation.

Practices can also provide detailed pre-treatment estimates so patients know what to expect before receiving their statement.

Well-prepared and presented can be considered as a last-mile touchpoint when it comes to practice-patient interaction and experience. Adopting a few best practices can help drive clarity and purpose in patient statements. These include a clear representation of the requisite information that is complete and creatively executed.

The increasing volume and complexities of staying compliant can affect goodwill and profitability for a healthcare practice. Staff training, managing issues that arise, and conducting periodic internal audits of processes can help a small medical practice adhere to all compliance norms.