One of the best opportunities for healthcare compliance officers to engage with leadership and staff is by conducting compliance surveys. These surveys have a number of benefits, and help leaders keep a good pulse on the overall health of their organization. And particularly if you have already been engaging with staff at regular intervals to check on the effectiveness of your program, then you will be able to measure your success over the years, and determine where you need to be spending additional time.
First, it is important and helpful to use various methods in conducting your surveys. Larger hospital systems, for instance, typically engage consulting firms to obtain a breadth of key information that can determine the health and direction of the compliance program. These web-based surveys, typically delivered to all staff by email, can provide across-the-board metrics that inform senior leaders as to the effectiveness of their staff and initiatives. But compliance staff at small and large organizations should also strive to conduct informal Q&A sessions with staff. These sessions can be a great way to “shake things up” while also providing valuable face time for the compliance officer. Don’t underestimate the value in speaking with frontline staff and letting them share their concerns and observations in these one-on-one opportunities.
Second, while surveys should generally cover compliance program elements, over time surveys should not necessarily cover strictly compliance related topics. With input from the organization’s human resources department, it can be beneficial to use survey opportunities to inquire about employee satisfaction, accessibility of resources and leadership, and overall ethics of leadership. Test the employees’ general knowledge of laws, rules and regulations that apply to their role – or at least the policies of which they need to be aware. Do they take their “see something-say something” responsibilities seriously? Do they have any specific matters to share with you in the moment? These conversations will help you understand if staff are sufficiently knowledgeable about compliance, and importantly, key staff into what they need to be aware of in helping the organization fulfill its compliance obligations.
Overall, formal and informal surveys demonstrate a compliance program’s capacity to improve and evolve. Ultimately, the survey is a form of audit of the performance and effectiveness of the program and the compliance staff’s engagement, accessibility and recognizability. But more than that, good, regular surveys will help continue to move the needle on your program, and are a valuable form of two-way communication between compliance personnel and staff.