Managing Healthcare Compliance in Washington

Brian Williams, MHA, MBA
Washington state overlay of medical photo

As a leader in public health initiatives, compliance in Washington state can involve more regulations and additional grant funding, which both require diligence by compliance professionals. For example, Washington has been proactive in tobacco control efforts, strategies to combat opioid abuse, and response to disasters.

To effectively manage compliance, healthcare organizations must establish a robust system for monitoring and interpreting these changes and swiftly implement necessary adjustments. This article provides an overview of key factors you’ll want to know about healthcare compliance in Washington.

Washington Healthcare Compliance Resources

Let’s start with the important state government agencies you’ll need to work with:

  • The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) plays a vital role in promoting the wellbeing of Washingtonians. It serves as the principal agency responsible for safeguarding public health by implementing preventive measures, conducting health assessments, and delivering essential health services. 
  • The Office of Compliance, within the DOH, ensures ethical conduct, integrity, and adherence to regulations through various initiatives, including awareness programs, monitoring activities, and the prompt handling of reports concerning non-compliance. By upholding these standards, the DOH contributes to maintaining public trust and ensuring the delivery of high-quality healthcare services in Washington state.
  • The Washington Medical Commission oversees the licensing and regulation of medical practitioners, ensuring they meet the necessary qualifications, training, and ethical standards. 
  • The Washington State Department of Health – Health Professions Licensing division governs licensing for mental and behavioral health providers. These licensing requirements help safeguard the public by ensuring that healthcare professionals possess the appropriate skills, knowledge, and qualifications to provide safe and effective care. 
  • The Washington State Hospital Association advocates for and provides value to healthcare organizations in Washington.

Regulations Unique to Washington

To meet the standards of healthcare compliance in Washington, there are a few additional regulations. For example, because fires are a concern in many areas of the state, there are additional precautions that organizations must meet. 

Washington State Security Breach Notification Act

The Washington State Security Breach Notification Act, codified under RCW 19.255, establishes requirements for organizations that experience data breaches involving personal information of Washington residents. “Personal information” is defined very broadly and notification to affected individuals and the Attorney General must be made as expeditiously as possible and without reasonable delay. These broad specifications can add complexity to to the role of compliance.

Certificate of Need Required

Any healthcare providers who want to establish or expand certain healthcare facilities or services need to obtain state approval. The decision process requires a pre-consultation, application, and public notice. The goal is to control healthcare costs, promote healthcare access, and prevent the overuse of healthcare services.

Tips To Manage Healthcare Compliance in Washington

Effectively managing healthcare compliance in Washington is a critical responsibility for healthcare organizations, as it ensures the delivery of high-quality care while adhering to legal and regulatory requirements. Here are some key strategies to help healthcare organizations manage compliance effectively:

  • Conduct State-Specific Training: Provide ongoing training and education to staff that is customized to your state’s regulations as well as your facility. If using a learning management system, ensure the vendor offers Washington-approved training.
  • Organize Policies By Requirement: Including “WA” in every document that is required by the state will make it much easier for you to find these documents in an online system when a surveyor is onsite. It is also best practice to include the standard you are meeting for additional clarity.
  • Establish a System for Monitoring Risk: Being able to identify compliance risks before they become incidents or violations can save the entire organization time and money. Identifying trends and consistently reviewing reports can signal issues, such as training not being completed or a large number of incidents in one location.
  • Use Compliance Management Software: Accreditation surveyors say organizations that use compliance software are more prepared for onsite visits and surveys. The software helps to keep documents and policies organized, ensures training content is up to date, and makes reporting easy.

By implementing these strategies and fostering a culture of compliance within your healthcare organization, you can effectively manage healthcare compliance, reduce risks, and provide the best possible care to your patients while staying within legal boundaries.

Credentialing Compliance in Washington

The most important thing to know about credentialing in Washington is that Washington requires all documents, applications, and information be submitted through their online portals. As of the writing of this article, the market is not saturated with providers, which means that most enrollments are processed quickly. Applications are often turned around in just a few weeks. 

Meet Washington Compliance Requirements With MedTrainer 

While the path may be complex, healthcare providers who prioritize compliance will not only avoid legal troubles but also enhance the quality of care they provide to their patients in Washington. 

MedTrainer’s all-in-one compliance platform can streamline management of Washington healthcare compliance. MedTrainer seamlessly consolidates your organization’s policies, incident reports, safety plans, HR documents, contracts, and more. This centralized repository ensures all employees have easy access to essential information. The course library is curated to align with regulatory and accreditation requirements, and courses are regularly added and updated to ensure the most current information. Learn more about MedTrainer today!