In the last two years, the healthcare industry experienced operational changes, new laws, and amendments to existing laws due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Covid also led to a rise in virtual medical assistance and artificial intelligence (AI) based applications. This prompted the creation of new laws and regulations regarding privacy and business operations. And there was also an increase in healthcare compliance jobs in response to the number of new laws.
Ensuring compliance with changing laws is critical in every industry, especially healthcare.
Because new healthcare regulations make HIPAA compliance more challenging, there is increasing demand for healthcare compliance officers and specialists, including for general healthcare laws and regulations and those pertaining to specific sectors within the healthcare industry. For example, patients, providers, managed care, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits and advocacy groups, and government health agencies and healthcare facilities have specific laws that apply to each.
Seattle U Law’s Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management prepares students to manage the increased compliance demand on healthcare systems. The program provides legal methods, analysis, and communication training that is essential for healthcare compliance officers. The MLS gives students a working knowledge and understanding of the regulations relevant to their sector so that they can apply compliance with a conscience.
Healthcare Compliance Officer
A Healthcare Compliance Officer is responsible for determining whether a healthcare facility’s policies are compliant with regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). They identify possible non-conformities and provide suggestions on how to correct them. The Compliance Officer would also ensure that the administration and staff are aware of and abide by compliance requirements. Healthcare Compliance Officers must continually monitor and verify that local, state, and federal laws and regulations are followed.
Healthcare Compliance Officers have excellent communication skills, are persuasive and analytical. They must apply legal recommendations for laws such as HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act to specific facilities. They should also be familiar with drafting operational policies and procedures and tracking the latest compliance and risk management trends, laws, and amendments.
Employers typically require healthcare compliance officers to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. However, an advanced degree such as an MLS in Compliance and Risk Management will show employers that you have a deeper understanding of compliance with respect to your healthcare facility. Experience in the field is important, but an MLS combined with experience demonstrates that you are career-minded and committed to the field.
Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
The Chief, or Head, of Ethics and Compliance (CECO), creates policies that ensure compliance with laws pertaining to the organization. They collaborate with the legal team to organize audit plans and conduct audits to verify that the healthcare facility is in compliance.
Additionally, they help to establish and enforce the ethical codes of conduct within the healthcare facility. The CECO works closely with Human Resources to develop ethics training programs for departments and staff and with legal teams to develop risk management programs that assess the legal risks of new business endeavors.
Typically, most Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers have a bachelor’s degree in law, while a large number have master’s degrees. An MLS in Compliance and Risk Management is a must-have credential due to the amount of collaboration needed with legal counsel. The CECO regularly handles sensitive information, needs to be experienced in communication and negotiation, and should be comfortable creating policy frameworks.
The MLS in Compliance and Risk Management with a concentration in healthcare compliance and on-the-job experience would help Chief Compliance Officers transition to the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer position.
Healthcare Compliance Auditor
In healthcare, a Compliance Auditor conducts internal audits to ensure the healthcare facility operates within its state and federal regulations. The Healthcare Compliance Auditor (HCCA) reviews new laws and changes in regulations to identify how those changes may apply to the healthcare facility.
They closely monitor the facility’s operations and offer solutions if the healthcare provider is not meeting HIPAA regulatory standards. The HCCA inspects the equipment, reviews financial records, and interviews employees about how they carry out their duties. They pay particular attention to the handling of processes concerning patients and whether those processes are compliant with HIPAA.
Employers require experience in the industry and up-to-date knowledge of government regulations and any changes that may affect the facility’s procedures. Some employers prefer to hire HCCAs with a master’s degree. Investing in an MLS in Compliance and Risk Management degree demonstrates to potential employers your strong interest and commitment to the compliance industry. It also shows your legal knowledge and ability to understand and convey the laws and regulations to the facility.
HIPAA Privacy Officer
HIPAA Privacy Officers specialize in healthcare. Also, HIPAA requires all healthcare facilities, large or small, to appoint a designated HIPAA Privacy Officer, who ensures the facility complies with privacy laws and HIPAA regulations in handling medical and personal records and information. HIPAA Privacy Officers review policies and procedures, train employees, and audit the management of data to ensure compliance and the protection of patients’ privacy.
Compliance with HIPAA regulations is stringent due to the nature of the information and the patient privacy rights that HIPAA protects. So, the HIPAA Privacy Officer must keep up-to-date with relevant laws, conduct breach risk assessments, and investigate and address breaches to Protected Health Information (PHI).
HIPAA Privacy Officers have bachelor’s degrees, and many also have master’s degrees.
Regulatory Affairs Specialist
The Regulatory Affairs Specialist (RA Specialist), a specialized position that pertains to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, ensures pharmaceutical products, such as drugs and medical devices comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) directives. They may not work in a healthcare facility, but their work deals directly with the pharmaceutical products used by healthcare facilities.
They have to be well versed in regulations and policies because they are responsible for advising on the laws and compliance matters as they relate to the products being produced. The Regulatory Affairs Specialist identifies and evaluates how laws and regulations may impact the activities of the pharmaceutical or biotech company.
RA Specialists are usually required to complete some legal studies, and candidates who have earned master’s degrees are in a better position for advancement.
How the MLS Courses Support Healthcare Compliance Jobs
Seattle U Law’s fully online MLS in Compliance and Risk Management was developed to equip non-lawyers with the skills and knowledge needed to protect organizations from legal risks. The MLS prepares you to manage compliance efforts in any organization, regardless of the industry. However, if your goal is to work in the healthcare industry, our elective concentration in healthcare compliance is a natural fit to help you advance in your healthcare career.
The legal fundamentals courses provide instruction in understanding laws and regulations, how to keep up with changes, and how the changes impact an organization. You’ll also learn analytical skills, how to assess potential risks to a healthcare facility, and how to draft policies.
- Introduction to the American Legal System
- Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing
- Foundations of Regulatory Compliance
- Risk Management and Auditing
- Contract Review and Policy Drafting
- Organizational Investigations
The healthcare compliance concentration will give you a working knowledge of essential healthcare regulations such as HIPAA, the Affordable Care Act, privacy laws, and fraud and abuse laws. You’ll learn how some laws apply to financial privacy and cybersecurity within a healthcare facility.
Healthcare Compliance Concentration
- Healthcare Law
- Industry Compliance in Healthcare
- Healthcare Transactions Compliance
- Foundations of Privacy Law
- Financial Privacy and Cybersecurity
Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management Program
Seattle U Law’s online Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management program helps individuals who want to advance their careers and learn from respected leaders in ethics, compliance, and risk management.
Depending on professional goals and interests, students in the fully online program can optionally choose to focus on financial compliance, healthcare compliance, corporate compliance, or data & cybersecurity compliance.
The MLS program provides opportunities to solve problems through a legal lens and gain foundational knowledge of the law, but without a JD. It prepares graduates to lead compliance efforts in any organization, regardless of industry. Students graduate with a commanding knowledge of the law, legal analysis, and the frameworks used to identify, assess, and respond to risk. The program’s values-based approach moves beyond a narrow sense of compliance and helps establish a sense of equity, justice, and inclusion.
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