Governing Boards in Healthcare Organizations – Making Compliance Your Priority

Each and every healthcare organization, whether or not it accepts reimbursement from government payors, must have in place regulatory compliance measures designed to protect the population it serves, and the persons paying for and providing those services. All levels of a healthcare organization must be cognizant of their roles in the organization’s continuing commitment to compliance. Even Board members, who often do not experience the inner-workings of the entities they represent, have an obligation and duty to the organization to act in a manner that stressed compliance. Applicable federal and state laws, how they apply to an organization, and how the organization reacts to its obligations imposed by those laws, must be of paramount importance to a governing board.

The OIG compliance guidance for healthcare boards tracks 4 areas over which boards should have specific oversight:

1. Relationship between the audit, compliance and legal departments. Your auditors should evaluate external risk and internal controls within your organization. Your compliance team should develop policies and procedures that provide employees with compliance guidance, methods to improve compliance, and ways to determine whether your compliance efforts are working. Your legal advisors advise your organization regarding relevant laws and regulations that govern the organization’s services. Each of these arms should operate independently to carry out their tasks and cooperatively with each other where appropriate. Your Board (or a designated committee of the Board) should be regularly provided with an understanding on how these different units function with themselves, each other, and management, with an eye toward improve and increase the organization’s compliance.

2. Issue reporting within an organization. The Board, or a designated Board committee, should be regularly informed about compliance related activities and information. The Board should be introduced to key personnel responsible for compliance and risk mitigation to create an open dialogue and to encourage reporting. Board members should work with such personnel in order to learn what information is useful in identifying areas of risk, and to identify trends.

3. Identifying areas of risk. The Board should be knowledgeable about areas of risk to which the organization might be vulnerable. For example, billing and collections is a common area of risk to all healthcare providers, but certain types of organizations may have areas of risk that are specific to its purpose. The Board should be informed about each area of risk that the organization is addressing, and should be ever-mindful about enforcement activities or other guidance that might cause the organization to update its compliance plan.

4. Methods to achieve compliance goals and objectives. It is the responsibility of the entire healthcare organization to execute its compliance standards. The Board should consistently assess the compliance-related activities and internal communications of the organizations employees and recommend rewards or disciplinary actions for those employees as appropriate. Organizations are well-served to educate Board members and employees alike regarding legally-required reporting deadlines and similar external measures.

Compliance plans are not just for large hospital systems or nursing communities. Any provider of healthcare services must provide those services within the bounds proscribed by law. The OIG’s guidance does note that an organization’s compliance goals should vary based on the size and complexity of an organization. Larger organizations should have more comprehensive compliance programs. However, small organizations are not absolved of a commitment to compliant and ethical conduct. Your Board members should be educated and involved in your organization’s continuing commitment to compliance.

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Increasing Popularity Of Distance Education To Shape The Future Of Promising Students

The concept of distance education is becoming extremely popular among people around the world. It allows them to finish their incomplete education which they had to leave for different reasons like severe financial crisis and other circumstances. Many higher educational institutions are supporting this medium of learning through offering courses on various subjects based on this model. People working in different sectors are showing good interest in this education model to complete their education without affecting their careers and other responsibilities. It is also helping them to acquire additional qualifications to secure better job-opportunities in the market. Students who have failed to secure admission in general education institutes are enrolling in various distant learning institutions to fulfill their academic goals and aspirations in life. The model of distant learning is helping students of weak financial background to obtain all the essential education facilities and infrastructures within affordable budget.

Candidates who are enrolling in distance education courses will not have to attain classes on a regular basis. Classes under this model will be held on certain specific days of the months and it shall not deprive students from obtaining quality education under the supervision of qualified teachers. This medium of education will offer them a much-needed platform to compete with students of general academic institutes in every walk of life. It is emerging to be the most reliable and secure platform where students have the opportunity to exhibit their hidden merits and intellects before others without any concern. Many private sectors are recruiting candidates who have secured professional degrees and diplomas in various subjects from distant learning institutes also. Using the platform of distant education many countries have been able to curb the level illiteracy to a significant extent.

Governments around the world are giving equal importance to this distant learning model besides the general education system. For the purpose of retaining the interest and enthusiasm of the students towards distance education, the government of India has made legal provisions to offer various financial grants and other assistance. A central distance education board has also been formed to supervise the teaching and other academic infrastructures of various distant learning institutes across the country. Now institutes running under distance learning model can also award students with prestigious academic recognitions like Doctorate, Post-Doctorates and others for pursuing higher-level academic research on any subject. Under government directive, many distance learning institutes have launched tutorial websites to facilitate smooth online admission of students into any course of their choice. These websites shall help them to obtain full information about every institute offering distant education courses. They will easily come to know about the teaching staffs, courses, examination schedules and other infrastructural facilities of these distant learning centers. Through these websites they can easily appear for different mock-tests, annual examinations and can engage in live interaction with the subject teachers for obtaining valuable guidelines and other academic suggestions. Students living in remote places will be much benefitted from these tutorial platforms as they can easily attend distant classes from their home quite conveniently.

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The Importance of Continuing Legal Education

Paralegals are required to maintain a certain number of hours of continuing legal education (“CLE”) in order to comply with state regulations and/or requirements based on advanced paralegal certification through a national organization, such as NALA or NFPA. If a paralegal fails to maintain the required CLE hours, that paralegal is no longer in good standing and cannot be identified as a paralegal or work in that capacity. However, the legal profession is not the only profession that requires continuing education. Across the board, almost every career that requires a higher level of education, training, and experience will call for continuing education that is consistent with the level of knowledge required for that career.

Clearly, for the individual, the main motivating drive to participate in continuing education is to comply with the legal requirements of the profession in order to remain in good standing and maintain your employment. However, there are other very important reasons to participate in continuing education in any field.

Protection of the public is one cornerstone for most professional continuing education programs. Just as an attorney is required to maintain MCLE credit, the supervising attorney of a paralegal is responsible to protect the public by ensuring that the paralegal demonstrates command of the area of practice that the attorney provides to the public. Public protection is not assured simply because an individual completed the education, training, and experience required to become a paralegal, or advanced paralegal. The ever changing legal system, rules, and technology demands that a paralegal continually learn and improve their knowledge and skills throughout their professional career.

Personal growth is another very important aspect of participating in continuing legal education. By failing to keep abreast of the current legal issues and trends, the paralegal falls into the trap of becoming stagnant and repetitive. On the other side of this coin, participation in a wide range of continuing education topics will broaden the paralegal’s understanding of different legal concepts, technology, and methods that otherwise may be missed.

Continuing education is an investment in a paralegal’s future. It is important to never stop striving to achieve the pinnacle of your career. If you are a paralegal, take the next step by earning an advanced paralegal certification. Studies show that:

~ A person with a higher education and career level has a higher earning capacity.
~ A person who has a higher education and advanced certification will be selected for employment over those who do not.
~ A person who is continually learning new things about their chosen career is a more valuable employee to an employer, and more likely to have more job security.
~ A person who is continually learning has a higher level of responsibility and job satisfaction.
~ A person who remains dormant in their learning will in time lose their skills and fall behind in their career.
~ A person who is continually learning remains competitive in the job market.

Therefore, invest in your career by updating your knowledge and skills that will improve your professional competence and value to your employer. It is the key to optimizing your professional growth throughout your professional life.

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Continuing Legal Education

Law practitioners have different lines of specialization in the field of law. However, law practitioners from any discipline can pursue their field of expertise through continuing legal education. Continuing legal education helps these professionals update themselves on the latest developments and reforms in their respective fields. Online study material is also available for these practitioners.

Continuing legal education curriculums include specific law topics, skill development, practice management, case studies and ethics. This kind of education is conducted as lectures, workshops, and discussions in audiotape as well as videotape formats. Attorneys who have recently graduated are expected to fulfill their continuing legal education requirement by taking accredited intermediary continuing legal education. Transitional continuing legal education courses are intended to help fresh graduates launch practices based on practical skills, method and events essential to the field of law.

In New York, new attorneys are expected to undergo courses or studies in conventional live classroom settings or attend fully interactive videoconferences approved by the Continuing Legal Education Board. Usually, attorneys are expected to study significant legal cases that have taken place in recent times. This gives them an exposure to methods and skills used by the attorneys of both sides and also understand the various laws applied. They can use the results of the case to analyze how the arguments affected the approach taken by the jury and the judge.

Experienced attorneys may take accredited intermediary as well as non-transitional continuing legal education courses or programs as per their requirements. Continuing legal education is a suggested study option for attorneys, legal secretaries, paralegals, lawyers, litigation support managers, legal support staff in law firms and company legal departments.

Continuing legal education is an absolute essential for growth oriented legal professionals. Continuing legal education eliminates incorrect practices and helps identify people who are not appropriate for practicing the trade. With the help of continuing education courses, a professional can also learn to handle new assignments.

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