Working well together is good for your career

A good working relationship with the compliance officer will not only avoid squabbles over turf but actually enhance the productivity of both offices, says Timothy E.J. Folk, a producer with The Graham Co., a healthcare consulting company in Philadelphia.

For example, the compliance officer can communicate information from his or her field, such as data reported in the development of a regulation, that information can help the risk manager improve safety programs or clinical protocols. Likewise, the risk manager can inform the compliance officer about insurance coverage that might be required before signing a contract with a funding source.

"That's the kind of give and take you want to see," Folk says. "You have certain skills and information, and so do I, so let's work together and do the best we can for this company."

Cooperation can only benefit the risk manager in the long run, says Joseph W. Dorr, MS, CIH, CSP, a safety consultant with The Graham Co. in Philadelphia, who works closely with hospital risk managers. Though Dorr and Folk advocate separate positions, they acknowledge that increasing financial pressure on hospitals could lead some to choose between one or the other, lumping both responsibilities on the same person.

"If that happens, it is your benefit to at least have that 30,000-foot understanding of compliance duties," he says. "We may start to see organizations face the difficult choice of whether to keep both positions or combine them into one, and if you're vying for that role, you will be in the better position if you have worked well with your counterpart and know that job to some extent."


Joseph W. Dorr, MS, CIH, CSP, Safety Consultant, The Graham Co., Philadelphia. Telephone: (215) 701-5250. Email: