How to Strengthen Your Regulatory Planning Strategy

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By Rhonda Perrin Oakes, RN, CHPN, Regulatory Analyst, Change Healthcare and Lois Glanz, RN, MSN, Director of Clinical Optimization, UnityPoint at Home
Home Health Regulatory Planning Strategy Tips

Gardeners are fond of saying that what grows is what you water. In a sense, the same applies to healthcare: focus on an area, and it will improve. And when it comes to regulations, this idea can influence how change is viewed within your organization.

The first step is to embrace a regulation-related change by assigning someone to oversee it. Virtually every new regulation affects more than one functional area, and without someone to coordinate change throughout the agency, it won’t happen consistently.

In a best-case scenario, the person chosen will have particular expertise in the area and will embrace the role of coordinator. Nearly everyone finds change difficult, and an unmotivated leader will be unable to inspire everyone else to adapt their workflows or processes to incorporate the new reporting or procedures from the regulation.

With guidance from the coordinator and input from stakeholders in the affected functional areas, the next step is to set a specific goal with several milestones to mark progress. Those milestone deadlines should be taken seriously—as soon as you fall behind on a change that affects the entire organization, it starts to seem overwhelming. That will not only slow progress but also affect morale.

Using Plan, Do, Check, Act

A good strategy for tackling regulatory change is to focus on the W’s:

  • What is changing?
  • Which workflows will be impacted?
  • Who will lead the changes?
  • Where will the changes occur?
  • When will we implement?
  • Why are we making the change?

UnityPoint at Home, a full-service agency covering nine regions in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, uses the answers to those questions to create an implementation based on the PDCA cycle: plan, do, check, act.

Specifically, the person in charge of the change effort oversees connecting those involved, engaging the necessary team members, creating an implementation plan, carrying out the plan, checking the implementation and acting on any potential improvements.

Each new regulation is evaluated to determine its potential impact on:

  • Finances
  • Public reporting
  • Clinician productivity
  • Size of office staff

Every stakeholder team includes someone to represent:

  • Quality
  • Informatics
  • Education
  • Compliance
  • Clinical operations, including field staff
  • Billing (as needed)

Finally, every process change is evaluated to determine whether clinicians understand how the new workflow works and its potential to produce valuable outcomes data. Additionally, the team looks at how to make the change sustainable (e.g., whether it become part of orientation training) and how it can be optimized (after three to six months).

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that once a change is implemented that the process is complete. Nothing could be further from the truth. Affecting lasting change is an ongoing process that only begins when you implement the change. That’s why we continue to examine processes long after they’ve been rolled out, to help ensure they become the usual way to do things.

For more regulatory news and helpful insights, check out our Home Care Regulatory News section.

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