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Top 5 Healthcare Compliance Changes in 2021

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With the introduction of COVID-19, many healthcare facility areas that were originally deemed prepared for a pandemic outbreak were not as equipped as initially thought. In fact, changes have already been made with The Joint Commission’s survey process regarding eliminating the "Environment of Care" session to allow more focus on emergency preparedness.

From my former experience as a Joint Commission surveyor and facility director, these are the top healthcare compliance changes I foresee coming as well as being discussed right now.

Top 5 Healthcare Compliance Changes

These are not listed in order of importance and are not inclusive of all the changes.

  1. The number of PPE storage days requirements will increase.
  2. With the shortage being a constant area of concern throughout the nation, par levels will definitely change in the immediate future. This is already occurring in some states, for example, the State of California is in the process of passing a bill (AB 2537) requiring facilities to have up to three months of PPE on hand. Think about the storage of 90 days off PPE and what it will take to maintain that.
  3. Accrediting agency regulations will require an increase of PPE daily storage for facilities.
  4. Since the projection is that the pandemic will continue into mid-2021, and possibly further, accrediting agencies are already speaking with hospitals about their needs and determining where their redundancy failed. This may not be an immediate regulation, but obviously, the current requirement is already deemed inadequate. The increase from the 96-hour requirement will definitely change.
  5. Facilities will be required to work closely with state resources through their local coalition to provide more accurate figures on equipment needs.
  6. Current strategic on-hand stockpiles that states had were depleted quickly. This proved they were not prepared as well as they thought for the needs of the community and healthcare facilities. State coalitions will need to work closely with healthcare to get a correct par level to help with surges. In the past, this was discussed but only in a hypothetical manner.
  7. Current healthcare facility designs and projects implemented will be redesigned to meet future pandemic air handling needs.
  8. Designs will focus on the ability to switch from positive to negative pressures quickly either by wing or site-specific rooms. Designs will also provide facilities the ability to section off areas and make them completely independent of each other by way of multiple entrances. Future designs will not be just one entire facility but many facilities independent of each other within one main building. This concept already is in place for fire safety but will need to go even further to maintain separate environments.
  9. Visitor management will become more stringent to minimize infection control related issues.
  10. In the future, this will evolve to include the flu season (that is absent of COVID-19). Visitors will be evaluated more on a "need to visit" basis. Visitors will be encouraged to keep in touch through social media or directly through other channels. Visitors will be screened to determine if they are a hazard to the environment. If anyone is deemed a hazard, they will be turned away.

These are a few of the changes currently being discussed and foreseen becoming a reality soon. It’s quite possible that on a local level many of the changes are already being instituted.

Feel free to reach out! I’d love to know what changes you are currently dealing with in your facility. Next year is setting itself up to be full of new and interesting approaches to mitigate future outbreak issues.

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