Healthcare Compliance And Chief Compliance Officers

by Michael Volkov

imagesCAHI1GC4“If we were supposed to talk more than listen we would have been given two mouths and one ear.” – Mark Twain

Sometimes people do not listen.  Mark Twain knew what he was talking about.  People like to talk instead of listening.  I try to teach my kids this point.  But people (and my kids) think they know better.

Change is hard.  I know that and I am patient.  But something is really amiss when it comes to the healthcare industry.

The industry has a rich history in compliance.  Healthcare companies have years of experience in responding to aggressive government enforcement.  This is not a new trend and only will continue as the government role in healthcare will continue to increase.

But the industry has been slow to recognize the importance of empowering Chief Compliance Officers.  It is a black mark on the industry and unless the trend changes there will be serious consequences.  HHS has made it clear that it expects companies to create an independent CCO, allocate sufficient resources to compliance, and provide direct access to the board of directors.

The government in all of its settlements requires healthcare companies to separate the CCO from the legal office and then adequately fund the compliance office.  In a 2010 survey, the Healthcare Compliance Association found that 20 percent of responding companies housed the CCO outside of the general counsel’s office.  (Interestingly, the 2010 HCCA survey found that there was little prospect that the industry would change the role of CCOs in its organizations).

But that is only the first question to be answered – the second, and more important question, is what authority and resources has been given to the CCO?  My answer to this, which admittedly is based on anecdotal evidence from clients, contacts and others in the industry, is that the healthcare industry has a dismal record in empowering CCOs within the organization.marktwain

Why has the industry been slow to respond?  Why are legal officers continuing to wear two hats – legal and compliance?  Why are Chief Compliance Officers continuing to report directly to legal officers?  Why are Chief Compliance Officers suffering from backwater authority and inadequate resources?

If you follow this issue, financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and others are embracing change and empowering CCOs.  They recognize the immediate improvement to compliance, the clear message that CCO empowerment sends to a company, and the importance of such a structural change to a culture of compliance.

There are too may CCOs working at hospitals, subservient to legal officers, and with limited resources and a restricted mandate to ensure compliance.  Hospitals are prime culprits when it comes to this issue.

CCOS2The Justice Department already has announced its intention to focus civil and criminal enforcement against hospitals.  Instead of responding to this clear risk; hospitals are sitting on their hands and waiting for the bomb to drop.

It is unfortunate but sometimes change only occurs after organizations are prosecuted and individuals are sent to jail or excluded from the industry.   I have seen this television show all too often, a company sits on its hands, waits and then suffers devastating consequences.  The management team is quickly cleaned out and a new team is brought in with the message to make sure compliance is a priority.  Hopefully, the healthcare industry will wake up and address this issue.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Michael Volkov, The Volkov Law Group | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Michael Volkov

The Volkov Law Group on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.