A Behind-The-Scenes Look at Healthicity’s Annual Survey for Compliance and Auditing Professionals
We know there’s no shortage of surveys in this world, but here’s why you should take ours – it's designed to gather vital information to benefit you and your organization, and because you’ll get a handy dandy report after we analyze the responses.
Get a look behind the survey scenes on our latest episode of Compliance Conversations, “The Marketing Team: What We Do in the Shadows,” where Healthicity’s Sr. Director of Marketing, Kyle Brogdon, steps from the editing booth into the recording booth to talk about what makes our survey different.
PS – if the episode inspires you to take the survey, we’ve got the links ready and waiting:
CJ Wolf: Welcome everybody to another episode of Compliance Conversations. I am CJ Wolf with Healthicity and today we have another colleague of mine from Healthicity, Kyle Brogdon. Welcome, Kyle!
Kyle Brogdon: Hello! Going from behind the microphone to in front of the microphone.
CJ: That's right everybody! Kyle is the wizard behind the curtain. He is in charge of, and I'll let him explain it better, but he's in charge of marketing for Healthicity, so I work with him closely and you can thank him and his team. He's got a lot of great folks on his team as well for all the good content that gets out there.
We're going to talk a little bit about Healthicity's compliance survey and auditing survey and why that's important. But Kyle, before we go down that path, tell us just a little bit about, you know, what you do for Healthicity and maybe what brought you here and all those kinds of good details.
Kyle: So, like CJ said, I am the senior marketing director at Healthicity. So, on my team here we are responsible for the Healthicity website. All of the Healthicity content. So, setting up all the webinars that we do with wonderful people like CJ and working with CJ, with the E-briefs that we do and all of the content that we send out.
So, my job is to make sure that everyone on the auditing and compliance side of the fence gets valuable content that they feel like helps their lives and to teach them more about the other services that Healthicity offers with software services and things like that.
CJ: Absolutely! And in addition to Kyle's marketing and strategic expertise, he is a kind and good soul, and I appreciate his approach to not only work but to life. So, Kyle, you're a good example to me.
Kyle: Well, thanks for saying that! Not necessary, but thank you for saying that. As you know I feel the exact same about you.
CJ: Well, thanks! I know you would never say it about yourself, so I wanted to say it cause you're a treat to work with, good man. So, Kyle, let's talk a little bit about this survey. This is an important thing that Healthicity does every year and I don't know how many years have we been doing this, do you know?
Kyle: So, Healthicity has been in operation since 2015 and I believe there have been some type of level of survey in every year I've been with Healthicity for about two years now. So, I have taken it over from my predecessors who did a great job before I got here. But yeah, I think it's been a standard practice that we've implemented at the beginning of our existence and have tried to evolve and improve a little bit each year to make it a little bit different from the standard survey and report that comes after it from a lot of places in the industry.
I think compliance tries to be a little bit more approachable and practical when it comes to not being quite as formal when it comes to our content and our presentation, our compliance programs and compliance management is obviously as formal as it needs to be for your programs.
So, an example of that is last year, we tried to turn it into more of like a check-up, so using the medical analogy and saying, "You know, let's take the information we got from our survey.” So, all of the responses we get from our people who fill out the survey for us, people who are hopefully listening to this podcast. And instead of just giving, hey, here's what everyone said, here are the answers, we wanted to take those answers, but then show them to our subject matter experts like yourself, CJ, and like Debbie Behunin, who is an auditing expert at Healthicity and some of our friends at APC and other experts like that and have them find the pieces that stood out to them the most.
And just give the compliance officers and the auditors out there your best advice, because this is what people are saying, this is what we see is happening and this is what we feel like you should do. So, that's kind of the path we took last year and then we used the answers that everyone gave us as a supporting structure for that for each question.
CJ: Well, and you've been very thoughtful in your approach, and because I'm one of the individuals that you involve and like you mentioned to other subject matter experts, but you're very thoughtful in, "Okay! Everyone, let's look at these questions. What do we need to tweak? What do we like, what we don't like? And so, it is a very thoughtful process. So, I appreciate that and appreciate you driving that.
And tell us a little bit, there are two surveys they can take. There's a compliance survey for those of you who might be more in the compliance space and an auditing survey that deals more with kind of coding audits and those sorts of things. So, kind of two surveys, but you can take them both as well. Tell us a little bit about how the survey is broken down.
Kyle: So, for those of you who don't know, the entirety of Healthicity we do serve two different audiences. Our flagship product is Compliance Manager and Compliance Experts, but we also have an audit management product with the extremely complex name of Audit Manager! We try to be very direct on both of our product names, they are what they are, say what they are. So, because of that, we try to get industry expertise on both of those sides. As you know, CJ, and hopefully a lot of our audience knows, we provide a lot of content for both of those audiences. So, we try to provide industry knowledge and updates from the OIG and updates from other critical resources like APC to both of those audiences through our webinars and through our E-briefs.
So yeah, we make two different versions of this survey that we do every year. Because we want to get that industry feedback of what are your peers doing? What are the struggles that you see? What are the struggles that your peers are seeing? How are you dealing with the new compliance regulations that happened because the pandemic ended and the rules changed several years ago, what are you doing about the things because the pandemic started?
And on the auditing side, similar questions, you know, they changed the E&M laws frequently. And they're always updating new regulations on how you audit physicians and how you do your audits of your facilities. So, we want to make sure that we are on the pulse of both of those industries. So yeah, if you are in one of those camps, we provide the compliance survey. And if you're in the other, we provide the auditing survey, and if you are one of those people who have a foot in both worlds and participate in all of those things, we would love for you to take both.
CJ: You and I were looking at some of the prior results and it starts with some demographic information, and I know you provide that, and so some of the folks that take it like some of the titles are coder and this is on the auditing side. So, a coder is a very common individual who takes a survey. Auditor, auditing manager, director, consultant, like a billing coding consultant, maybe it's auditing support revenue cycle, so there's a lot of great stuff there.
And on the compliance side, one of the most common respondents is compliance officer and then very similar compliance manager or director, but then also administration and executive compliance consultant, and then there's a big group that's other, but all of this stuff is broken down when the results are shared so that you can get a good sense of the demographics like; "Who's taking this thing right?" Like large organizations, one of our most common respondents or responses for the compliance survey was "How many total employees does your organization employ?" and the number one choice around a little over 40% was over a thousand and then it breaks it down the next common one was 50 to 200 so a smaller group and but anyway you can kind of get a sense.
The reason I'm sharing this is benchmarking is a really important part, now I'm talking from the compliance perspective and auditing, but benchmarking is really important. If you read the OIG guidance documents, and if you read the DOJ guidance documents, they make reference to things like; "Are you aware of what similar, either competitors or similar organizations in your space, are doing? How frequently people are auditing?"
So, like if you look at the survey results and somebody's auditing positions every quarter or a certain size is auditing annually, or doing certain things like policy reviews every year, but you're doing them every five years, you know, again, you might have valid reasons this is not absolute algebra, there can be valid reasons, and surveys have to be understood in the context in which the answers are given. But it can give you at least a general idea of what others are doing, and so I just wanted to put that in Kyle because it's so important from a compliance perspective to at least be on a regular basis, "Am I in the right part of the park here? Or am I way out in left field? or something like that. So, I think the survey does a lot of good work in that regard and I don't know if you have any thoughts or comments on that.
Kyle: I mean, that's really why we do it, first of all, because we as Healthicity a company that serves healthcare compliance officers, and healthcare auditing professionals. We have a responsibility to make sure our products are helping you the best that they can. So, if we are not constantly making ourselves more aware of these needs, of these situations of the people that we're serving, we're not going to advance and update our software in a way that's helpful for you.
So, we use this information that we collect not only to provide content for our audiences but to improve our products. We take these things and we say; "Oh! this is a big need in the industry that our compliance professionals are facing. Does Compliance Manager meet this need? and if it doesn't, what do we need to do to the program to make it meet this need?"
So, that's really the reason why we want to make sure we're getting a lot of feedback and that we're getting a large percentage of people who can answer these things. So, we have a very large sample size of the industry out there because again, we want to use this information to help you.
CJ: Yeah, I agree. It's such a great tool. As you mentioned, it's used for benchmarking, and you already mentioned this, we use it to say "Oh! look everyone or large people are struggling with this, or large people think this is their top compliance risk for the next upcoming year. Let's make content that will address what people are asking for," and so it's a really good way to get that feedback and we always appreciate it through the survey, but we also appreciate it getting it directly as well.
Kyle, let's take a short little break and then we'll come back and I got some more questions for you.
Hey, welcome back everybody from that break. We've got Kyle Brogdon here, who is the senior marketing director for Healthicity. We're talking about the annual compliance survey that Healthicity does, and I failed to ask you, probably the most obvious question, where can people go take it? How do they get it?
Kyle: Obviously go to Healthicity.com and at the top of the page there is a resources button and that's where you can find all of our resources. All the great webinars that we do with CJ and other folks, all of the E-briefs and the updates and OIG updates and the White Papers. So, it is there in the list. But maybe the easiest way in today's world where you can find it the easiest is to go to our LinkedIn page.
So, if you go to linkedin.com/Healthicity, we have pinned a post about the survey at the top of our page so you don't have to Scroll down and try to find it somewhere. We've tried to make it easy for you to find it there. So again, if you just go to our LinkedIn page, linkedin.com/Healthicity, and of course we want you to follow us because that's a great way for people to stay up to date when we release content based on these findings when we have webinars that are going to help you when we have webinars that help you get your CEUs every year, which we offer at least one per month. But yeah, if you go there and click on that link, it'll take you to the compliance survey because again, that's our flagship and our largest audience, and especially for this podcast, but if you crossed over into the auditing coding world, there will be a link on that page when you get to the website, that will also take you to the auditing and coding survey if you'd like to that as well.
CJ: And I know, correct me if I'm wrong, but you know on that resources link that you mentioned in the website, you can access recorded webinars and you can get E-briefs and stuff and aren't past years results, both the webinar discussions that we've had about prior year's results, those are recorded and available as well, I know you guys publish like a more formal looking report as well in a PDF version I think and people can still get prior versions, right?
Kyle: Yes, they can. And as CJ said, you can go back and find last year's webinar, where CJ and our other experts will discuss the results that we get from the survey. And then, like you said, we also do a PDF back in the day, they would call that print, but it's not really print anymore! It's a digital PDF. So, you can find both of those for last year and in the past years as far back as they're there. Our website has a very easy-to-use search button that should find all of those if you just type in "annual survey" or "annual report," it should find all those for you. But yeah, as CJ mentioned with this year's results, when we get them, we're going to do both a webinar and a digital PDF to send out to everyone.
CJ: And I think you as much as you're willing to share and can share. What's the general time frame, cause we're recording this end of July, I'm sure you'll be posting this relatively quickly, generally, you want people to take the survey by what general time frame, and then we will analyze results and I think we're planning maybe the fall for kind of our subject matter expert webinar where we get different folks from different areas to analyze the survey results and then we have a webinar about it, can you share a little bit about the what your anticipated timeline is?
Kyle: Yeah! So, like you said, we are recording this at the end of July 2023. We are planning to have the survey open through mid to late August. So, we will do a few more e-mail sends. We are running some LinkedIn ads to get it in front of more people. We're obviously talking about it here so we can get more people to take the survey. We invite all of you to send it to your friends, and then we will gather the results in early September, we will review them with our experts, and then from there we will build out the webinar will come first.
So, I would say mid-September to late September, we will have the webinar where we will have both our compliance pros and our auditing pros gather and just go through the most interesting things that they see jump out from the results and like we discussed earlier, we'll just have a frank conversation with you guys about what large organizations are struggling with? what small organizations are struggling with? what do you see on the compliance horizon?
Things like we discovered this year that we've been putting a big emphasis on about the nursing home emphasis that the OIG has released. So, all of those things that we see from the survey, we'll just lay them out there so that our compliance and auditing professionals can hear what other people are doing, and can get ideas on how to make their lives easier. And then probably the first week of October, we're planning on having the emailed version that we'll send out to our entire list.
CJ: Yeah, that's a great timeline. And I'm thinking back, Kyle, on some of the things we've discussed in the past and I know we keep many of the questions the same and we do tweak questions, but like for example on the compliance side, a really good threshold question is, you know, does your organization have a designated Compliance Committee?
So those of you that listen and read a lot of our material know that there are seven elements of a compliance program. We asked that question last year, and 83% said yes that they have a compliance committee. That is the best practice. Now 9 to almost 10% said no and there can be valid reasons why not. What if you're a one-doc practice? Are you going to have a committee? Your committee of one or what do? So sometimes committees don't always make sense. So again, you kind of have to read between the lines, but that's a good general threshold question of; "If I don't have a committee, is there a good reason why I don't have a committee?
And another good one is about we asked a couple of questions about the 60-day repayment rule or overpayments that question I think is applicable, and this is a good point even if you're more in the auditing world, you should look at the results of the compliance or even take it, at least the questions you can answer because the 60-day repayment rule or overpayment rule is really affecting both worlds. It's kind of a compliance oversight, but the auditors are the ones who identify the problems, right? And so that's another question that we ask.
We ask about policies. You know, how frequently do you review your policies? We ask about, you know, is there a reporting structure to the board? and we ask about leadership and independence, right? an important part of a compliance program is independence. Do you feel like the compliance program is independent enough that they could carry out their functions reporting? how frequently do you report certain things to the board? Risk assessments? What are your biggest risks for the upcoming year? You know telehealth, there's been a lot of changes and we're going to be talking a lot more about this in future material. And so, we ask questions about that.
And then I know on the auditing side, they ask a lot of questions about how frequently do you audit providers. What's the passing rate? What is your, cause that's somewhat arbitrary you don't want to set it too low, what is a passing rate for performing the coding and revenue cycle audits, those sorts of things? You know, do they do education? That's another really good one on the auditing side, you know, do you give the results after you audit and how do you give the results? Are they in person? Is it an e-mail? So, lots of really good mechanical things.
Kyle, anything that pops out to you from prior years, that is important, or trends, or anything else that you see there?
Kyle: Well, one of the things I was going to mention since you were talking about the auditing side and as we mentioned before, the value of these results, getting this data and making improvements to our programs, which in turn allow you guys to make improvements to your programs on the end, both through information and through tools.
So, one of the things that was recently released in our audit managing program was the ability to audit facilities instead of just auditing, you know physicians. So, it's a new release in the program, but and it was discovered through one of our reports. So, it was a pain point. It was identified. It was a struggle that people were having issues with. So, our program team and our development team made it a part of Audit Manager and just released it. So, things like that are just evidence of being able to share this information and find out what your peer struggles are, and then taking practical action on it.
CJ: Yeah, one of my favorite questions too is; “What presents the greatest compliance risks to your organization this year?” You know, we have to make decisions. We can't look at everything. We have limited resources. And so I'm just going to pause for a second and ask all of you; "What was the greatest risk last year?" What do you think the number one answer was? I'm going to mumble a little bit here and see if anyone can come up with it!
Kyle: We need the Jeopardy music! Maybe I can pull that and add it in the edit, but we'll see.
CJ: Exactly, guess what, everyone?
Kyle: Well, what we can do is we can say; "Pause the webinar or pause the podcast, go fill out the survey and tell us what it is this year, and then come back and find out the answer from last year!"
CJ: Hey, good idea! I love that! Well, I won't keep you waiting. The number one risk that of the people who took it last year was HIPAA, medical necessity was a close second. So, interesting, right?
And that might not be your number one risk. You might have a really great HIPAA compliance program and that's fine. You got to, you know, remember surveys are the masses and then you got to look at your individual program. I think we had over a thousand people take the survey last year. Is that, my numbers are about, right?
Kyle: Yeah, that's about right. We'd obviously like to have more. We have a few more that take it on the auditing side usually, but that's why we're trying to get more eyes on this. We want people to take the survey and share it with their colleagues. And again, it doesn't just have to be compliance professionals. I mean, if your CEO, your COO, your Chief Nursing Officer, or anyone who has, you know skin in the game, or so to say, has an opinion about the compliance program, has an opinion about the needs and the struggles. So, share it with all of your colleagues, we need this feedback.
CJ: I love that, Kyle! That's such a great point. You know, it's not just for compliance officers or coders. It's anyone who has skin in the game. So, even maybe clinicians, right? Or the people who are doing the services and you mentioned executive leadership and administration, I love that. Great advice!
Kyle: I mean, I was a marketing professional in the healthcare world and I had compliance concerns. They were probably very different than everyone else's, but they were there.
CJ: Yeah, that would make this a very much richer type of activity. So, Kyle, we're kind of getting towards the end, what things did we leave out and what other points would you like to make in regards to the survey?
Kyle: I don't think we left out a whole lot just to say that, one of the things we want to make sure everyone knows is that they're going to get a copy of all of the answers. So, when you answer these questions, you're going to get what does the rest of the industry think and say and what is everyone struggling with. And I think in today's world, where a lot of us have gone remote, a lot of us are not face-to-face with peers as much as we used to be. Think that's very important to have a place where there's, you know, this conversation happening. So, we just encourage you to chime in. And so, when you get the results in October, and we do that in October for a reason, we want it to be there towards the end of the year to have the latest information. And then for you to be able to plan for your changes to your program for the beginning of the year in January.
CJ: Yeah, that's another great strategic point, right? A lot of us in compliance and auditing, you're making your plans kind of towards the end of the year for the following year. And so having all the information at your fingertips is valuable.
Well, Kyle, it has been a pleasure talking to you. I want to encourage everyone, as Kyle has, to take the survey. Let's beat the record of participants from last year, right?
Kyle: Let's do it!
CJ: And let's get that number up! And the more that take it, the more valuable this is. So, we appreciate those who do and just want to encourage those who haven't yet to take the surveys.
Well, Kyle, thank you again! And thanks everybody for listening to another episode of Compliance Conversations. We appreciate your participation in these and in the webinars and all the material and ask you to provide your feedback and wish you a wonderful day. Take care, everyone!
Kyle: Thanks, everybody!