A new study by consulting firm Deloitte & Touche revealed most healthcare organizations with compliance programs have not yet found a way to measure the effectiveness of their programs.
In the 32-page study of 500 corporate compliance officers and internal auditors from hospitals, health systems, long-term-care facilities, integrated delivery systems, health insurers, home health services and physician practices, fewer than half reported having a complete program.
Other findings from the compliance program survey, which was released exclusively to MODERN HEALTHCARE, included:
* Less than 2% of the organizations surveyed did not have compliance programs in place or under way.
* 67% of compliance programs are less than 2 years old.
* 70% of the organizations employ from one to five full-time employees dedicated to compliance.
* 20% reported no full-time personnel working in compliance.
* 37% do not make compliance education mandatory for salaried physicians and 72% don't require it for nonsalaried doctors.
"Perhaps what is most striking is that because most compliance programs are so new, little attention has been paid to measuring the effectiveness of these initiatives to date," the report concluded.
Despite a recommendation from HHS' inspector general's office, only one in three compliance officers reported performing annual reviews of their programs.
Educating employees about compliance remains a problem. Some healthcare organizations are finding with budget crunches that compliance programs are not always a corporate priority.
Mark Watson, a Deloitte & Touche partner and the national director of its Health Care Regulatory and Dispute Consulting Practice, said the only surprise was that compliance programs aren't further along in the implementation stage.
"Organizations haven't yet decided whether (compliance) is beneficial," he said. "Is compliance having an impact on organizations? The answer is: It's too early to tell. There don't seem to be substantive benchmarks to measure effectiveness and the majority of those in the industry have not focused on measurement."
The report recommends several ways to improve measures of compliance program effectiveness, including developing a new framework for evaluating program components and enhancing the role of internal auditors.