The importance of compliance, especially in the paramedics/healthcare industry, cannot be emphasized enough. If your EMS practice is a growing sapling, compliance is the root that restores balance in your workforce and infuses the necessary lifeforce to help your service grow in the right direction.
There is a long stretch of rules and regulations to follow – right from abiding by safety guidelines to operating a full-fledged fleet of vehicles down to even the color of lights to be used. Then, there are several responsibilities healthcare providers must follow including a deep knowledge of life-saving skills and a set of required certifications like CPR.
But what makes compliance so important? Why should your paramedic team, a legion of life-savers, take compliance and ethics any more seriously than the work they do each day? How can you craft a compliance program that brings real results? Read on to understand.
Importance of Compliance in Healthcare
Valuing compliance comes with countless benefits. Compliance particularly ensures the equipment and vehicles remain in pristine condition and your paramedics remain fully focused on the service. When compliance is maintained, the staff can have peace of mind by embracing your service’s collective goal of offering the highest possible care.
You may think of compliance as an important form of investment with the potential to yield valuable returns down the line. Through compliance, the staff remains aware of what is expected of them. They remain assured of the type of care and support their employers are willing to provide. A great staff that remains in great standing with regulators, in turn, boosts the quality of your EMS service.
Ensuring Your Paramedic Team is Compliant
You may have a great compliance program in place. However, it will yield real results only when your paramedic team fully adheres to it. For them to offer top-notch services, it is critical they understand how the applicable laws and regulations are the foundation of their job.
Make sure you sketch out the full range of both impermissible and permissible actions in your employee handbook. You can even briefly summarize your compliance policies in the handbook such as the key elements of policies, what can be at stake should a case of non-compliance arise, how an employee’s failure to comply can be disastrous for your practice, the steps they can take to report any cases of misconduct, and who would be responsible to spell out resulting action.
How to Maintain Compliance Amongst Your Paramedic Team
Compliance must start at the top of your organization
If your goal is to ensure your paramedics fully understand the value of compliance, the first step has to manifest from the top. When the upper management – directors, chiefs, officers, and more – back any initiatives of ethics and compliance, it is inevitable for a strong compliance culture to form among your paramedics.
Leaders must be the torchbearers of every compliance effort. This includes having a general knowledge of rules around operating an EMS service, approving policies, and reviewing reports.
When top management neglects compliance, the results reflect among the governing bodies, scheduling and staffing, and even the payers.
Commit to training
Your compliance training determines whether or not your compliance program will yield the right outcomes. It ensures your EMS team has the peace of mind to execute top-notch services. Training is also a way of telling them that their rights remain fully protected, their safety is valued above everything else, and your service values them.
Aside from compliance policies, training is another critical element of a strong compliance culture. To ensure your paramedic team practically soaks in every bit of your compliance literature, the training you extend must be highly engaging and interactive.
Create an environment where your paramedics feel free to come forward and “anonymously” report any issues they witness or experience. One of the major hiccups in any compliance system is the fear of retaliation. Use the training to help them understand that doing the “right thing” will not hurt their careers.
A thorough, periodic, and efficient education to both the employees and management at all levels is the most important ingredient for a successful compliance program.
Impart constant compliance education by developing or sourcing comprehensive training plans and methodologies. Government agencies often expect to see proof of the training you provide, what the training literature comprises, and if your team has attended the training. For this reason, it’s also important to track attendance and delivery during the training.
Periodically test if your training is working.
Crafting and offering great training is only half the job done. In some cases, when you don’t notice any compliance fiascos, it could simply mean they’ve failed to surface in the first place. Perhaps your paramedics fear retaliation and choose to bottle up their issues or maybe some of them don’t have full faith in your system. Regardless of any hidden issues, running regular tests is critical to detect and correct them so they don’t blast into disastrous legal issues in the future.
Continuous communication is essential
You can have your compliance procedures reviewed and audited by a professional third party to ensure your system runs smoothly. Regular audits will also help you gauge where your compliance efforts stand. It will also help you determine the areas that need more work and how to discover the ways you can strengthen your training programs.
If crafting a great compliance program is the starting point of a great compliance culture, taking immediate action on any incidents of non-compliance is what makes the entire system whole.
Any sign of non-compliance – this could be in the form of reports, detected offenses, or observations – need an immediate investigation.
This includes analyzing the documents, running interviews, maintaining thorough investigative records, exercising the right action on the detected violation, and taking appropriate steps to ensure the incident doesn’t repeat in the future.
Crafting a solid compliance system might not be a walk in the park. But with a great compliance program, the right education, communication, dedicated monitoring of the program’s effectiveness, and the ability to “act” on any instances of non-compliance are the elements that can create a strong foundation of compliance in the paramedics industry.
Giovanni Gallo is the Co-CEO of ComplianceLine, where his team strives to make the world a better workplace with compliance hotline services, sanction and license monitoring, and workforce eLearning software and services.
Growing up as the son of a Cuban refugee in an entrepreneurial family taught Gio how servanthood and deep care for employees can make a thriving business a platform for positive change in the world. He built on that through experience with startups and multinational organizations so ComplianceLine’s solutions can empower caring leaders to build strong cultures for the betterment of every employee and their community.
When he’s not working, Gio’s wrangling his four young kids, riding his motorcycle, and supporting education, families, and the homeless in the Charlotte community.