Treat Your Compliance Program Like a Toyota


Post By: Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC, President, Management Performance Associates

I know we all want a Tesla compliance program: state-of-the-art, powered by sophisticated technology, with little maintenance required. We all want the automatic cloud-based software updates that magically appear.

But most of us have a Toyota compliance program: well-built, thoughtful design, with regular maintenance required to ensure reliability. And that’s OK. We just need a good maintenance schedule.

How much compliance upkeep is enough?

Whether you have a Corolla or a Land Cruiser, it’ll last longer, drive better, and be more fun to ride around in if you take care of it.

So what’s the healthcare compliance equivalent of oil changes and air filters? Here are some examples:

  • Regular audits of compliance program risk areas
  • Policy review and updates
  • Ongoing staff training and reminders (not just annual!)
  • Quarterly compliance committee meetings and board reports
  • Diligent investigation of complaints with documented follow up

Keeping compliance tuned up also means tending to your unfinished business.

What’s your unfinished compliance business? Is there a suggestion box you’ve forgotten to check? A complaint you still need to follow up on? An annual training you couldn’t fit in? A policy you know you need but haven’t had time to put together? These items are your unfinished compliance business. And leaving them unfinished is a little like leaving all of those goldfish crackers under the car seats in the back of your car. This situation will not get better with time.

It’s OK to drive a Corolla.

Like I said earlier, we all want the Tesla. Or the Toyota Land Cruiser. All compliance officers have a wish list miles long of the software they would buy, the staff they would hire, and the swag they would order for the best Compliance Week of all time. But most of us are running Corolla compliance programs, and that’s just fine.

If you do the upkeep, a Corolla compliance program can be outstanding. I know plenty of compliance officers running fantastic compliance programs without fancy software and with a $200 (or smaller) compliance week budget (for a small provider). These compliance officers walk the halls every week, talking to employees about compliance and handing out candy bars with their hotline number on them. These compliance officers write thank you notes to employees who come forward with important compliance issues. These compliance officers run some of the best compliance programs I have seen. I’ll take a reliable Corolla compliance program over a Heritage Edition V8 Land Cruiser with third-row seating and alloy wheel locks that hasn’t had an oil change in six years.

It’s time to vacuum out the goldfish crackers, remove the Roxette cassette that’s been stuck in the console for three years, and develop an ongoing maintenance schedule to keep things running smoothly. After all, it’s the routine maintenance that will make your compliance program a high performer.


  1. That’s a great analogy, Margaret! Your article is a good reminder that the ongoing attention to small items, while less exciting, is what’s achievable and impactful for a compliance program.

  2. I love this! What a great reminder that maintenance keeps our programs running strong. Something I started during 2020, was holding monthly pulse-check meetings, to hold myself and my team accountable for making sure we are keeping up with our maintenance work. It so easy to focus on the soup du jour, and drop the ball on those foundational aspects of our programs. It’s been a great tool and a great way to intentionally connect with the team now that we’re working remotely.

  3. Thanks for this! It’s a great reminder that we don’t need to be perfect to be perfectly good and effective. All those little things add up. We can get to our destination just fine, regardless of the ride!

Comments are closed.