How To Make a Compliance Plan for Your Chiropractic Practice

Does your chiropractic practice have a clear and thorough compliance program? If not, we’ll show you the basics of a compliance plan and how to make one for your chiropractic practice.

What Is a Chiropractic Compliance Plan?

First, what is a chiropractic compliance plan? A compliance plan is a formalized system of procedures and policies that help an organization or practice prevent, detect, and resolve conduct that government bodies and healthcare organizations have deemed unethical and illegal.

Basically, it’s a plan to keep an organization honest by holding itself and its employees accountable for unethical practices like fraud, waste, and abuse. Most healthcare providers are required to have a compliance program in place. However, even if your chiropractic practice isn’t legally required to have one, it is highly recommended that any practice that deals with insurance billing have a program in place.

Why Does My Practice Need a Compliance Program?

If you’re a chiropractic practice that isn’t legally mandated to have a compliance program, why should you have one? Why go through all the trouble?

Prevent Unethical Conduct

The principal motivation for an organization’s stringent and clear compliance program is to deter, detect, and resolve unethical practices. Unfortunately, unethical practices like fraud and abuse are rife in healthcare, especially with insurance billing.

But with an effective compliance program in place, practices can detect unethical conduct before it worsens and spreads, resolving it for the betterment of all parties. Simply put, a compliance program is the best way for a practice to ensure its employees behave honestly and reliably.

Shield Organization From Sanctions

When a healthcare provider like a chiropractic practice comes under scrutiny in the form of a records request or investigation, one of the first things authorities will examine is the compliance program. With a clear and useful compliance plan, a practice has a stronger defense against accusations of organizational wrongdoing.

Let’s say a legal authority finds an effective compliance plan at a practice where an employee committed insurance fraud. In this case, the authority is more likely to be lenient with discipline and isolate sanctions against the individual instead of the organization. So for a pure self-preservation motive, a compliance plan is integral to any chiropractic practice.

Establish Credibility

A compliance program helps create a more ethical and honest working environment for a chiropractic practice. This makes it a more credible organization in the eyes of peers, authorities, and partners such as insurance agencies. Credibility is essential for a practice to survive in an industry like healthcare, as your practice has a tremendous responsibility to patients and other healthcare organizations.

Furthermore, a compliance plan is helpful when finding chiropractic liability insurance. Insurance providers want to assume the least risk possible, so an enforced compliance plan bodes well for them.

What Your Chiropractic Practice’s Compliance Plan Needs

Now that you know why a compliance plan is important, we’ll explain what every chiropractic practice compliance plan needs and how you can make one for your practice.

Internal Audits

The first step in a compliance program is an internal audit to show that the chiropractic practice is identifying and improving compliance from within. It’s wise to start with an Office of Inspector General (OIG) compliance manual and review the work plan that helps organizations identify areas of concern.

After the initial audit, you should conduct internal audits and monitoring yearly at the chiropractic practice to identify any issues. If the same compliance infractions keep appearing from a certain source, the audits may have to be more frequent until they show the problems have been permanently resolved.

For the initial internal audit, consider hiring a compliance consultant who can provide professional expertise and show the organization the proper way of doing things.

Written Standards & Procedures

Once the initial audit is complete, the chiropractic practice will receive a report card that identifies areas of risk in the organization. To address these areas of risk, the head of the chiropractic practice and the compliance officer or committee will update the written policies and procedures of the practice.

Every organization must distribute these compliance policies and documents to employees. Ensure these policies are concise and easy to understand; dense and wordy policies are less effective. Basically, any employee or outsider should clearly understand what is compliant and what is non-compliant from these written policies.

Designated Compliance Officer

While some heads of chiropractic practices may deem themselves qualified, selecting someone other than the head of the organization as the designated compliance officer is wise. A compliance officer has many responsibilities, and the head of a chiropractic practice already has enough to worry about.

Some practices select a compliance committee to divvy the responsibilities among multiple people. For example, one person conducts internal audits, and another implements a training program.

You may also choose to hire an outsider as a compliance officer rather than hire within the company. This may provide added impartiality.

Employee Compliance Training & Education

Obviously, for a compliance plan to be effective, all employees must know and learn about the program. Every new hire should receive compliance training, and all current employees should undergo compliance reviews yearly.

It’s also wise to have focused compliance training for specific departments and roles, as different areas of the practice may differ in compliance requirements.

Outlined Actions to Violations

Within the written compliance standards, you should also outline responses to compliance violations. Essentially, if someone detects a violation, how should they report and investigate it?

Having the plan outlined with clear rules makes the process more straightforward and helps ensure honest and accurate investigations into violations. If a plan only identifies unethical violations with no recourse or further steps, it’s not an effective plan of action.

Reliable Lines of Communication

Communication is a vital aspect of any compliance program. If any employee sees a potential violation but does not have access to reliable lines of communication to report the activity, they are less likely to report it.

Having open, confidential, and non-retaliatory communication policies are crucial in detecting compliance violations. It’s also useful for employees to ask questions and clarify compliance rules without the threat of suspicion.

Disciplinary Standards

The written policy should include clearly-defined disciplinary actions regarding various violations and their severity—whether it be intentional fraud, negligence, or failure to report a violation.

Without clear ramifications for violations, employees may not take the plan seriously—and legal authorities may not either.

If you need further help conducting a compliance plan for your chiropractic practice, consider contacting our helpful staff at Baxter & Associates. We are here to provide your practice with the tools it needs to succeed.

How To Make a Compliance Plan for Your Chiropractic Practice

How Communication Skills Can Help Prevent Issues for NPs

Nurse practitioners (NP) face many challenges in their position, many of which stem from miscommunication. Below, we’ll explain how effective communication skills can help NPs prevent issues and discuss some of the greatest communication challenges NPs face.

Why Communication Is Important for Nurse Practitioners

NPs have many responsibilities, from recording a patient’s medical history to ordering lab tests and developing treatment plans. But at the heart of all an NP’s responsibilities is effective communication, both between the NP and patient or NP and other staff.

If communication in any of these relationships’ falters, the NP can’t fulfill their responsibilities to the best of their abilities, and issues arise. That’s why written, verbal, and nonverbal communication are all vital skills that NPs need to succeed.

Issues That Stem From NP Miscommunication

If an NP doesn’t communicate properly with a patient or fellow staff, many issues can arise. If the NP doesn’t have quality communication skills, a patient may not reveal their entire medical history out of embarrassment or anxiety, causing vital information to go undocumented and putting the patient at risk. Even something as simple as filling out a lab test order requires written communication skills.
If there’s ambiguity or confusion, it can cause delays and inefficiency.

Even the slightest delays in healthcare can have severe consequences, so NPs need strong communication skills to prevent these issues. And if the patient suffers due to an NP miscommunication, they can seek damages in the form of a malpractice lawsuit, which is why NP malpractice insurance is also vital.

Communication Challenges That NPs Face

Unfortunately, the healthcare field is rife with challenges to effective communication for NPs. Some of the most difficult challenges are the lack of time and information overload.

Time Crunch

As we discussed, NPs have many responsibilities, and many of these responsibilities are time-sensitive. With a nationwide shortage of nurses, NPs are taking on even more responsibilities and patients with fewer resources, so time efficiency is critical.

With so much to do and so little time, it’s easy to rush communication and for things to get lost in translation. Communication is critical to an NP fulfilling their responsibilities, even if it takes longer than they want.

Information Overload

Another consequence of NPs having so many responsibilities is that it can feel like they’re being overloaded with information. Information overload is a significant problem, especially for those treating many patients, as it’s easy for details to fall through the cracks or get lost in the avalanche of data and info.

The more information you throw at a person, the more likely it is they will forget something. This is why written communication and documentation are so crucial for NPs.

We hope our explainer has enlightened you about the communication challenges NPs face in their field. If you’re an NP that needs malpractice insurance, contact our staff to learn more about Baxter & Associates today.