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Tips from the Acting Inspector General
Joanne M. Chiedi, Department of Health and Human Services Principal Deputy Inspector General and acting Inspector General recently called upon compliance officers to be bold and act. Ms. Chiedi cautioned that such action was extremely important, considering the rapid technological change and innovation in health care. Effective compliance oversight requires understanding how health care is delivered today and how it will be delivered in the future. She listed the top challenges for compliance officers who are trying to keep up with these changes.
- Agility and Adaptability. Compliance officers must be nimble so their ability to adapt to change is critical. This necessitates creating multidisciplinary teams with the flexibility and skills to work in new ways across the organization to identify and gain insights into program vulnerabilities and determine how to address them. Critical to all this is obtaining compliance-related data, C-suite support, and the freedom for compliance officers to do their jobs. Ms. Chiedi suggests reviewing the compliance office staffing plan to be sure that the right mix of expertise exists. She also emphasizes finding ways for organizations to leverage their data to identify compliance soft spots and liabilities before they come to the government’s attention and potentially become bigger, more expensive problems.
- Continuous Prioritization. Compliance officers need to continuously scan the environment to understand current and emerging issue areas to be able to reassess priorities. Ms. Chiedi suggests focusing on supporting and advocating a culture that allows for experimentation and establishing a regular process for scanning the legal and regulatory environment as part of establishing and revising compliance priorities.
- Compliance Leadership. Compliance leadership must have a clear vision, empowerment, and passion for the mission, so that their voice will be heard when sitting at the leadership table. Getting in early and often with leadership can help avoid costly mistakes and retrofitting down the road. This means continuously seeking means by which to use technology and data to improve the compliance program and operations. Ms. Chiedi suggests meeting with the people planning data or technology functions and being at the table to ensure that innovations are done in a compliant way.
- Strategic Partnerships. It is vital for compliance to establish working relationships with others in their organization to be able to address the complexities of the health care world. Ms. Chiedi suggests that compliance officers get to know all program managers and department heads, especially IT. It should also be a priority to identify business partners and reach out to their compliance offices. Being strategic also means reaching out to, and networking with, others in the profession at conferences and other local opportunities.