In this five-part podcast series, I am taking a deep dive into healthcare monitoring and how the pro-active use of a healthcare monitor can positively impact all stakeholders in the healthcare industry: the regulators, the healthcare industry and the consumers of health care services, the public. I am joined in this exploration with two individuals at Affiliated Monitors, Inc. (AMI), the sponsor of this series, Catherine A. Keyes, Vice President of Operations, and Jesse Caplan, Managing Director of Corporate Oversight. In this episode, I visit with Keyes to discuss how an independent integrity monitor can be used in non-disciplinary administrative proceedings.

The first scenario is around hospital conversions. Many states have laws in place to protect the public’s interest when a not-for-profit hospital is sold to a for-profit entity. The state’s Attorney General or Department of Health may impose conditions on the new entity, in some cases to prevent it from simply “flipping” the hospital and extracting the dollar value of the goodwill that was invested by the state when it was not-for-profit.

Hospitals started by charitable or religious organizations may have been acquired or approached by for-profit entities who might be interested in acquiring them. States are concerned that they simply want these healthcare institutions snapped up, so the states want to make sure that the interest of the public are really protected. There are multiple interests that the public has when a not-for-profit entity is bought by a for-profit entity; including things like making sure that the for-profit entity will exist as a healthcare provider for a reasonable period of time, they are good neighbors, that they pay taxes and if there were charities that were in place, those charities continue.

When such a conversion occurs, the purchaser may agree to a wide variety of conditions, such maintaining certain services, making capital improvements, expanding in certain areas, meeting certain public health standards (for immunizations, treatment standards, coordination of care) and addressing certain public health priorities, such as opioid overdose risks or area-specific issues like Lyme disease. An independent integrity monitor may engage in some or all of the following: review of money to be sure it is spent according to conditions; review of policies, procedures, contracts, training materials; review of assignment of assets,  e.g. donations that were earmarked for a purpose that is no longer possible; visits to the hospital to see if certain programs are functioning, to see if services are being offered as agreed-upon; interviews with staff to see how medical requirements are being met; and review of charts to see whether processes are being followed. In short there are wide variety of conditions which be in place or which the state or regulators want visibility into and a monitor can provide that visibility.

A monitor can also consider other factors, which may seem to less healthcare related but could impact a conversion. There might be an agreement for capital improvements, for example, there might be total dollar amounts to be invested, dollar amounts per year or there might be dollar amounts over a span of time. It could all depend on what the long-term plans are for the acquirer. As an acquirer typically does not make a lot of capital improvements in the first year, a regulator would need a monitor in place for some period of time to make sure the investments are made and  the money spent is actually going on capital improvements. There could be ancillary agreements such as participation in and sponsoring of community activities or education, all of which need to be monitored.

A monitor can drill down into whether the healthcare provider put out advertisements about those kinds of things and see if the public and the person or persons involved actually attended them. Another area often seen is around charitable assets, where a donor may have made a bequeath to a hospital for a specific purpose. If the specific purpose is no longer available; for instance, if it was for a hospital wing that is getting closed down and not being used for the kind of care that it was set up for, those assets might be reassigned.

A second area could be granting of licenses or Certificate of Need and the conditions that a state may impose. This could be for a new hospital, a renewal or some other healthcare facility where the state really wants to have some continued oversight. Keyes explained that while it is not substantively different than the acquisition realm, it is more quantitatively different. There may be a smaller set of conditions, that have been agreed upon. An example might be a Certificate of Need associated with the purchase of a large piece of equipment which might change the dynamics around a facility.

An independent integrity monitor extends the capability of the state agencies and regulators, it allows them to confirm that the entities are meeting the conditions. A monitor can review the paper trail indicating that the agreed-upon processes are in place and can help to keep a healthcare provider’s compliance program on a schedule, so that it does not slip too far down the list of company priorities.

For more information on how an independent monitor can help improve your company’s ethics and compliance program, visit our sponsor Affiliated Monitors at www.affiliatedmonitors.com.

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