Post-acute providers putting billions into regulatory compliance, report finds

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The healthcare industry spends roughly $39 billion annually on regulatory compliance efforts, with post-acute care providers bearing the brunt, a new report shows.

The American Hospital Association's “Regulatory Overload” report, issued Wednesday, found average sized hospitals spend nearly $7.6 million each year on administrative work related to compliance, or roughly $1,200 for each patient admitted. Hospitals' annual costs increased to $9 million annually when they had post-acute care beds on site.

The report also found average-sized acute care facilities dedicate around 59 full-time equivalents, typically doctors and nurses, to primarily focus on compliance. For post-acute care providers, the number of FTEs needed to keep up with the sector's strict regulations increases to nearly 70 per facility.

AHA's report divided nearly 630 healthcare regulations created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Civil Rights and Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and found almost half (46%) of those were related to post-acute 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," said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “Too often, these regulatory requirements seem detached from good and efficient patient care.”

AHA recommended that lawmakers take steps to reduce provider regulatory burden, including modifying the Medicare conditions of participation to allow hospitals to recommend post-acute care providers and expand coverage of telehealth services.

Click here to read the AHA's full report, “Regulatory Overload: Assessing the Regulatory Burden on Health Systems, Hospitals and Post-acute Care Providers.”