AHA: Healthcare providers spend $39B a year on tasks to maintain regulatory compliance

The regulatory load on hospitals, health systems and post-acute care providers is substantial and takes time away from patient care, according to a study released Wednesday by the American Hospital Association.

For the study, the AHA and health policy and business strategy advisory firm Manatt Health joined forces to review federal law and regulations in nine regulatory domains from CMS, HHS' Office of Inspector General, HHS' Office for Civil Rights, and ONC.

The AHA said more than 30 executives at four health systems were interviewed for the study. Nearly 200 hospitals that included systems and hospitals with post-acute care facilities were also surveyed.

Here are four findings from the study.

1. Hospitals, health systems and post-acute care providers spend $39 billion annually on tasks to maintain regulatory compliance.

2. An average-sized community hospital with 161 beds spends $7.6 million per year to comply with federal regulations, the study found. That amount is $9 million if the hospital has post-acute care beds.

3. An average-sized hospital dedicates 59 full-time equivalents to regulatory compliance, and more than 25 percent of the FTEs are physicians, nurses and allied health staff. This means these FTEs are taking time away from patient care, the study notes.

4. Providers dedicate the most resources to documenting "hospital conditions of participation" adherence and "billing/coverage verification processes" compared to the other seven regulatory domains reviewed. Other regulatory domains reviewed include "program integrity," "fraud and abuse," "quality reporting," and "privacy and security," among others.

Read the full findings and the AHA's recommendations for reducing regulatory burden here.



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