LTC leaders invest heavily in staffing agency partnerships. In turn, they should expect a relationship with leadership and nurse professionals who take healthcare staffing compliance seriously. But how can you be sure that your staffing agency prioritizes the same standards you do?
To help you evaluate staffing agency perspectives on compliance, we sat down with our Senior Director of Clinical Operations, Lynn Barry, MSN, RN, for some insights.
Defining Quality Assurance for LTC
Quality assurance (QA) in post-acute staffing relies on providing the highest quality care to your patients. This happens through continuous improvement in nursing workflows, harm reduction initiatives, and error prevention. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlines a structured approach to quality assurance and performance improvement through their QAPI program—a systematic and data-driven method for maintaining quality in nursing homes by involving caregivers in practical and creative problem solving.
To expand on this approach, Lynn emphasizes the importance of a staffing agency’s perspective on partnership and their workers, “since there is no agency supervision on site, they should make an effort and do their best to ensure they’re supporting their nurses and you as a client with clinically competent people to take care of your residents.”
How to Evaluate Staffing Agency Compliance: 6 Critical Signs
Evaluating your current or potential staffing partner’s approach to healthcare staffing compliance is a process. These six factors that LTC operators should look out for will serve as a solid starting point for your future decisions.
1. Prioritizing quality in staffing
An agency should ideally have a compliance leadership and QA team that represents the full spectrum of nurse skills and competencies—including directors of nursing, hospice care, home care, and both acute and post acute backgrounds. IntelyCare, for example, has a Clinical Quality Assurance Manager and a Clinical Compliance and Data Manager who oversees Joint Commission and HIPAA standards.
2. Fostering a culture of quality
An agency’s approach to quality should extend beyond clinicians to include all departments, such as marketing, revenue cycle, onboarding, and recruitment. According to Lynn, “a staffing agency should create an environment where everyone on the team is invested in safe patient care and their entire organization is working to understand quality and the services they’re delivering to you as their clients.”
3. Prioritizing training and education
The nurse professionals at your agency need access to training and education. Nurse professionals today lead busy lives, making on-demand and flexible training options a significant bonus—they need opportunities to fulfill CEs with minimal barriers.
This, of course, should start with how gaps in skills and knowledge are identified. The agency itself should work with its professionals to guide education choices based on a facility’s feedback and also personal goals and input.
4. Responding to clinical and professional complaints
An agency that’s serious about complaints will track attendance, tardiness, and ‘no call no shows’ to assess whether a particular professional is a good fit for an assignment. They will support their nurse professionals in clinical and professional behavior, including punctuality, treating staff with respect, and maintaining a professional appearance. Lynn provides an example: “In our program, nurse professionals can self identify gaps in knowledge and choose which education modules they want to review to support that. In addition, if we receive a concern, we can also assign education to that nursing professional based on client feedback and our interactions with them.”
5. Following safety reporting and HIPAA compliance
Safety and HIPAA compliance should be built into an agency’s safety event investigation process to prevent future incidents and protect patient safety and privacy. The agency should have risk assessment protocols around complaints, how they’re processed, and who has access to them. For example, safety reporting systems help minimize exposure of patient information to a need-to-know basis.
6. Standardized daily workflows
Universal workflows help eliminate variation and ensure that all nursing staff have access to the same education, that every investigation of a quality issue is properly processed, and that CMS guidelines are followed.
Your staffing agency should work with their quality assurance teams to assess risk and develop workflows and resources, such as forms that outline how quality allegations are handled.
IntelyCare’s Perspective on Healthcare Staffing Compliance
We look at compliance differently than staffing agencies. At IntelyCare, we take a multi-faceted approach to quality assurance and compliance—one that originates with our internal leadership and flows to our LTC partners through educated and supported nursing professionals.
Best-in industry credentialing
Credentialing is the foundation of our approach to compliance and we work to ensure the staff we bring on board meets our strict standards of quality through our best-in-industry credentialing process.
Unmatched training and education
Training and education is critical to quality, which is why all of our nurse professionals have free, on-demand access to IntelyEdu—a constantly evolving wealth of CE courses that includes 180 specialized education modules.
Our workflows ensure that issues are addressed before a nursing professional returns to the workplace. This level of development isn’t as easy to facilitate with 1099 workers, but since our nurses are employees, we’re much more involved in their professional growth.
Ultimately, a staffing agency’s approach to compliance is one of the most critical pillars of your partnership. Agency leadership should be excited to hear your feedback and even encourage your rating of their performance. This is the bare minimum necessary to keep nurses fulfilled as professionals and patients safe. To learn more about how we keep our partners and your patients safe through our compliance and credentialing processes, start here.
Megan is a business writer with over 15 years of experience in healthcare enterprise technology. She holds an MBA and B.S. in Healthcare Administration. She now keeps an ongoing eye on the latest developments and successes in healthcare admin technology and the people who use it to build a better world for providers, patients, and their care communities.