It goes without saying that a counselling practice must place ethics at the forefront of its operations. When dealing with psychologically and emotionally vulnerable people, accountability and compliance are essential considerations. Yet, while a therapist will have to undergo up to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience and pass a state-issued exam to begin practicing, this in and of itself does not assure compliance. Aside from the clinical compliance issues like HIPPA that practices may take for granted there are also inherent issues when a practice accepts remuneration from their clients.
While it may not feel like one, a practice is a business like any other and absent practitioners may inadvertently fall afoul of a number of compliance issues while their focus is firmly on delivering clinical excellence in their practice. While issues of financial, legal and clinical compliance may vary from state to state, it behoves you to at least look into:
KYC compliance or Know Your Customer compliance refers to the verification of a prospective client’s identity either before you begin a course of treatment or during, as this is technically a transaction. It is put in place to guard against identity theft and money laundering activities. While this legislation is designed to protect financial institutions, whether or not you are technically subject to KYC regulation your practice should embrace KYC practices to protect themselves and their clients.
Third party anti-corruption compliance
As a small practice, you may believe that this does not apply to you as it is solely the domain of large corporate titans. However, if you make recommendations for medication to a client’s Primary Healthcare Provider you may find yourself embroiled in the same supply chain as large pharmaceutical companies who are absolutely affected by this kind of legislation.
Even if you suspect that it will be a long shot, it’s in your best interests to take a look at the ethics and compliance handbook.
Data protection compliance
Needless to say, as a private therapy practice you are privy to a great deal of highly sensitive client information. In an era where organizations of all kinds have been subject to malicious data breaches and instances of ransomware, all practices must take steps to arm themselves against malicious software. The healthcare industry has been particularly singled out the makers of ransomware programs in recent years and, worryingly, this trend seems likely to continue into 2019. Even if you have, or outsource, a dedicated IT department it may be in your best interests to invest in additional security to protect your clients’ sensitive data as a ransomware breach could cause a crippling blow to your practice’s reputation.
In the face of a daunting regulatory landscape, it behoves practices of all sizes to read up on their compliance obligations. Unfortunately, it is no longer enough to simply offer your clients operational excellence anymore. Only by ensuring that your practice is comprehensively compliant can you ensure that you operate safely while protecting your reputation and your clients’ sensitive data.