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Leadership Engagement Biggest Jeopardy to Healthcare Compliance

2019 Healthcare Compliance Benchmark Report findings signal a pressing need for leadership to offer greater support to Healthcare compliance professionals as their departments struggle under the weight, acceleration and complexity of regulatory accountability.


SAI Global, a recognized leader in Integrated Risk Management and trusted global vendor in the healthcare compliance sector, unveiled the results of its 10th Annual Healthcare Compliance Benchmark Report (2019).

The commissioned survey, conducted on behalf of SAI Global by Strategic Management Services, LLC, a recognized expert in compliance consulting services for the Healthcare industry, unveiled that amid concerns about lack of automation, the growing strain on department resources, cybersecurity and rising regulatory demands, the biggest challenge facing Healthcare compliance professionals this year is the need for realignment among leadership to focus, engage and support the compliance function.

According to findings from the report, engagement of leadership was the top challenge facing Healthcare compliance professionals, followed by managing auditing of high-risk compliance and getting program managers to focus on compliance risks in their area. On resource challenges, despite increasing departmental responsibility half of the respondents expected their budget to remain essentially the same this year. Meanwhile, the scarcity of compliance personnel is forcing these departments to not only do more with less, but the expectation is that they are facing ongoing and significant change.

Comparing resources, challenges and expectations against industry peers provides valuable insight for Healthcare compliance professionals against a backdrop of escalating and ever-changing regulatory demands and an evolving remit,” commented Richard Kusserow, former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Inspector General and CEO of Strategic Management Services. “What the findings of this report highlight is that there is need for greater support from leadership to enable compliance teams to respond to and navigate the growing complex compliance landscape.

“A theme we are seeing across different industries, is the volume of regulations and the changing nature of consumer expectations placing greater demand on compliance departments,” commented Peter Granat, CEO at SAI Global. “Compounding matters is the patchwork of systems that risk professionals have to contend with. By developing an integrated risk management approach, leadership are better equipped to support their compliance teams by accelerating time to value and, in this age of accountability, ensuring the future sustainability of the organization.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 77% of Healthcare compliance officers now have responsibility for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy, with about 40% for risk management.
  • Compliance offices remain lean, with 65% having 5 or fewer staff, and 30% having only 1 full- or part-time person.
  • Only 1 out of 5 organizations reported using tools to automate key compliance processes, such as document management, measuring compliance program effectiveness, audit management software, and critical incident management
  • Only 29% of recipients have their compliance program independently measured for effectiveness.
  • 18% of respondents indicated high confidence in their preparation for an Office of Civil Rights (OCR) audit, declining slightly from the 20% reported last year and 30% in 2017.
  • Nearly two-thirds of the respondents reported having made disclosure to OCR of breaches of privacy under HIPAA.
  • 64% of respondents state they have not used surveys to measure compliance program effectiveness in the past year.

Survey methodology:

Commissioned by SAI Global, Strategic Management Services surveyed 419 healthcare compliance professionals across a wide spectrum of US provider and managed care organizations. Participants were asked a variety of questions relating to the current state of healthcare compliance, including demographic data, resource levels, reporting relationships, compliance program operations, challenges, and priorities for 2019.

Download the 2019 Healthcare Compliance Benchmark Report.