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Managing & maintaining annual compliance training

By Brian S. Williams, Compliance Director, MedTrainer
April 2014

In order to be effective, whoever is responsible for medical compliance and training within your practice or center must have the right tools. Without this, managing compliance training may become a distraction from more important job duties and may not achieve the required compliance.

New employees must receive compliance training such as safety orientation, Bloodborne Pathogens, and Fire Safety and Hazardous Communication to avoid costly fines and to help prevent employee injuries. Existing staff, including physicians, must also receive annual compliance training and be given an opportunity to participate in discussions regarding sharps injury prevention on no less than an annual basis.

Moving from paper-based to electronic-based training

Many organizations have one person who maintains responsibility for ensuring that staff receive and complete their compliance training, as well as providing access to Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and site-specific Injury and Illness Prevention Plans (IIPP). This can be a daunting task if a traditional binder and sign-in sheet method is used, because it requires excellent organizational and follow-up skills, which are often interrupted by competing priorities.

Paper records take up space, are dependent on manual tracking and often involve a barrage of email reminders. Depending on the size of the organization, the amount of time spent managing a paper-based training program tends to be fragmented and does not always meet the specific state or federal requirements, especially when important updates or changes in regulations are released.

“The alternative to paper records is a Learning Management System (LMS), which can store and make training available to staff electronically.”

The alternative to paper records is a Learning Management System (LMS), which can store and make training available to staff electronically. The majority of LMS systems are cloud-based and require a subscription, which may include a limited number of courses or full access to the sites learning content.

The LMS should have the following basic features:

  • Relevant learning content
  • A management and tracking system to schedule and manage “students'” assigned courses
  • The ability to track course completion

Advanced systems allow subscribers to upload local learning content, provide bundled assignments specific to the type of organization, access to compliance program templates and other important documents.

It is important that the available learning content on the LMS meets your specific needs, such as state-specific regulations, or courses specific to your patient population or other local guidance.

Categories of learning content often include:

  • OSHA Compliance
  • Employment Laws
  • Employee Skill Building
  • Clinical Guidelines
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Health and Human Services
  • Quality Improvement

Look for an LMS with the cost, benefits and features that fit your organization

If you are looking for custom content for your organization, make sure that you understand the total cost for the design and final production. It is important that you define the objectives and what the participants are expected to learn as a result of the content you want to customize. This will help to keep cost down and you may find some LMS systems that provide basic content development with a preferred subscription.

When shopping for an LMS it is important to be able to get the feel of how the system will work for your organization. How you access the system is important. Consider the number of users and whether they want to use tablets and smartphones to access the LMS at a time and place that is convenient.

Technical specifications should be reviewed to make sure that the LMS is SCORM compliant (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), which are the standards and specifications for web-based electronic educational technology. System security should include a hierarchy of access roles for managers and staff, which may include multiple locations and program administrators. It is also important to understand and resolve any gateway or firewall issues that could prevent or slow down users from accessing the system.

Start-up and the impact on the organization must be considered carefully. The system should not be so complex that staff has to spend hours learning how to access and use the LMS. Start-up should not be disruptive to the staff or the administrator that is responsible for system oversight. The purpose of the LMS is to reduce the time it takes to administer compliance training and implementation should not make the administrator’s phone ring or create an inbox full of questions.

The LMS provider should have a specific communication plan to avoid conflict and confusion. Many LMS providers have significant start-up cost and required training to access the system. Shop carefully and look for the LMS that has the cost, benefits and features that make the most sense for your organization.