The changing role of the hospital CCO

Hospital chief compliance officers are taking on more responsibilities in a post-Affordable Care Act (ACA) landscape as more high-level executives retire, according to a new survey from Deloitte.

The 2015 Compliance Trend Survey polled 360 compliance professionals, 15 percent of whom worked in the healthcare industry. Despite numerous healthcare-specific compliance concerns such as cybersecurity and supply chain risks, the report revealed that the CCO position has not become deeply ingrained and developed within the industry, especially compared to the financial services sector. 

But the report does note an increase in the number of organizations that provide the CCO with a say in high-corporate decisions. Half of the top compliance execs sit on executive committees, up from 37 percent in 2014. Part of this reason is a shortage of healthcare compliance experts as more executives retire. This has led to organizations giving CCOs more risk-management authority and reporting structures, according to the report.

In 2014, a healthcare-specific survey from PwC found 86 percent of respondents have a designated CCO accountable to the CEO or board of directors, and 88 percent said their CCOs had compliance committees to support them. Slightly more than 40 percent said their compliance staffing levels had increased in the past year and about 3 in 10 reported an annual compliance budget of at least $1 million.

"Compliance has been a core function in healthcare for nearly 20 years now, and a lot of the individuals who filled key roles early on are retiring," Kelly Sauders, a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP who leads its healthcare risk and regulatory practice, said in Deloitte's recent report. "Searches are taking longer, and there's not always a large bench to draw from. Organizations are finding if they don't have the right authority and reporting structure, they cannot attract the type of candidate they are looking for. In several recent searches, we've seen CCO candidates negotiate for a better title and reporting relationship."

Deloitte also found that healthcare CCOs are expanding their internal resources for coding and billing compliance, and 15 percent either outsource or co-source (using both oursouring and internal resources) the responsiblity. However, only 9 percent of healthcare respondents have expanded internal resources to address the Health Insurance Exchange compliance requirement, with 30 percent planning or implementing no change.

Furthermore, 28 percent of healthcare respondents said most of their compliance-related activity involved coding, while 24 percent spent the most time on HIPAA requirements.

"What's interesting is [compliance in healthcare] changed over the lsst two or three years it's getting more attention and more focus than it ever has, and it seems like other executives are starting to understand that it's not just a necessary evil," Sauders told FierceHealthcare in an exclusive interview. "There's so many things changing that from a business perspective, you need to have someone monitor and manage that. It's much more expensive and harmful to the organization to have a big failure or have a big issue than invest in the program up front."

To learn more:
- download the report