Compliance is a Team Sport


By Mike Fabrizius
Editor, AHIA New Perspectives

Team sports provide us with many organizational analogies, and none better than football. The successful elements of the defensive dimension of football provide some strong parallels to healthcare compliance. In both cases the goal is to improve the chances of success by preventing costly mistakes that can damage the team’s record and standing.

Healthcare is recognized as the most regulated sector of the U.S. economy. Regulations seemingly come from all directions and all manners of agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

While football is not as extensively regulated, the current NFL game rule book can be intimidating with 88 pages, organized into 18 sections and identifying 56 possible fouls.  Additionally, the NFL has detailed rules governing player scouting and drafting, contracting and compensation, practicing and game apparel.  In both football and healthcare, the rules have to be known and followed by all players and employees, with no excuses accepted by the referees or regulators for ignorance and non-compliance.

Other common elements of success in both endeavors include staffing, preparation, attention to details, communication among teammates, and good leadership and coaching.  The football team and the healthcare organization both recognize that putting the right players in the right positions is extremely important. Aptitude, attitude and commitment are foundational attributes.

Preparation and development, necessary for any participant, comes through training and specifying expectations. Understanding the complex details of the rules and regulations, and developing and executing on a game plan, are essential in preventing mistakes in defensive coverage and rules violations. Both organizations and individuals can be penalized based on the facts and circumstances surrounding violations.

Communication and coordination keeps the front office, coaching staff and the players on the same page. Communication is open and transparent. Concerns are shared and discussed to minimize misunderstandings and mistakes. As conditions evolve or personnel availability changes, management makes timely adjustments to minimize the risk of failure.

The intangibles cannot be overlooked. Good teams have strong cultures that include shared accountability and modeling expected behavior.  They recognize that compliance is not just a “front office” or “compliance department” responsibility.  They encourage and require all employees and players to be engaged and responsible members of the team.


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