Arkansas Hospitals Health & Science Politics

Policy and Advocacy: Regulatory Overload

The American Hospital Association has released a comprehensive 33-page study and analysis showing that providers spend nearly $39 billion a year solely on administrative activities related to regulatory compliance.

In addition, the analysis found that an average-sized hospital dedicates 59 full-time equivalent employees to regulatory compliance.

One-quarter of those employees are physicians, nurses and other health professionals who would otherwise be caring for patients.

While some regulation is clearly necessary to ensure safe and accountable care to patients, close to 24,000 pages of hospital-related federal regulations were published in 2016 alone. Providers are constantly challenged to interpret and implement new or revised regulations while maintaining their core mission to provide high-quality patient care.

“There is growing frustration for those on the front lines providing care in a system that often forces them to spend more time pushing paper rather than treating patients. Too often, these regulatory requirements seem detached from good and efficient patient care,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO, American Hospital Association. “The regulatory burden is substantial and unsustainable, and reducing the administrative complexity of health care would allow providers to spend more time on patients, not paperwork.”

The study looked at nine areas in order to assess the administrative impact that existing federal regulations have on providers, ranging from quality reporting to mandatory recordkeeping. The analysis found that providers are required to comply with 629 discrete regulatory requirements across nine areas from four different federal agencies.

In addition, an average-sized community hospital spends $7.6 million annually to comply with federal regulations; this equates to $1,200 every time a patient is admitted. Reducing the administrative burden will enable providers to focus more on patient care, and reinvest resources to improve care, improve health and reduce costs.

Providers appreciate that federal regulation is intended to ensure that health care patients receive safe, high-quality care, and prioritize it as a critical part of their day-to-day work. But the scope and pace of the changes being made is out-stripping many providers’ ability to absorb them. At the same time, many of these regulations do not improve the quality of patient care or access to services. Providers need relief now.

A link to the analysis can be found at

The above article is from the Fall 2017 edition of Arkansas Hospitals, a quarterly magazine published by the Arkansas Hospital Association. Vowell, Inc. produces Arkansas Hospitals on behalf of the Arkansas Hospital Association. This article is reprinted with permission.

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