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Compliance as a customer service agent: Divergent interpretations

Joanne Freeman (jfreeman@mercy.com) is Director, Compliance, at Bon Secours Mercy Health in Cincinnati, OH.

One of the seven elements of an effective compliance program is the implementation of written policy, procedure, and standards of conduct.[1] Ethics, a part of conduct standards, is the moral compass of an individual and the principles that govern a person’s behavior. Ethics and morality are also a part of the culture and the systems that determine right and wrong in the workplace. Creating an environment of high ethical values should be the goal and responsibility of every employee and leader in an organization. Compliance leads the charge in “doing the right thing” and sets an example for others.

So, what words describe the person and duties of a healthcare compliance professional? Let’s start with “problem-solver,” someone who researches issues and systematically seeks to find resolution. Maybe “integrity” comes to mind—someone who is consistently honest and trustworthy. What about “detailed,” an individual that is innately focused, able to uncover the fine points, and ask the right questions to discover root causes in an organized fashion. A compliance professional often is a “facilitator,” one who directs the subject matter experts, keeps the group on task, and can summarize holistically. There are many more terms, phrases, or words to describe the healthcare compliance profession and its people, but there is one description that is rarely associated with compliance—customer service.

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