Today’s print and mail operators are facing an increasingly difficult task when it comes to maintaining compliance. It is imperative to have superior print and mail integrity and data security, while also ensuring that there are documented, standardized process controls in place.
Healthcare, finance, government and other heavily regulated industries require mailers to be especially vigilant about process control. Whether you are an in-house mail operator or a service bureau, compliance violations can lead to hefty fines and damage to the brand. Taking the time to develop, implement and follow a compliance process – with a clear audit trail to back it up – helps ensure your business is compliant with all relevant industry regulations and safeguarding customer data integrity.
No half measures for true compliance
Print and mail operations typically inherit compliance requirements from their stakeholders. Managing and maintaining those requirements often means high costs. Technology enhancements, accounting for manual quality control and even training, are all expenses tied to audit response and the larger cost of compliance. However, businesses must also preserve their day-to-day productivity.
Businesses can’t afford not to do these things. For example, if you are a service provider, non-compliance can constitute a breach of contract and result in losing clients. And compliance goes beyond just implementing technology. The U.S. and EU each have different sets of regulations to comply with, and serious penalties for failing to comply with them. But whether you’re working toward compliance with U.S. regulations like HIPPA or EU regulations like GDPR, solutions alone are not enough; the answer needs to be more holistic. Employees at all levels need compliance knowledge, with an infrastructure built across the business that reflects and meets all compliance needs. Additionally, any compliance solution must have the ability to track, report and maintain documentation on how you’re meeting regulations. That way, businesses can look back over months or years to defend their compliance standards in any particular situation.
Half measures on compliance do not deliver full integrity. Ad hoc solutions, such as adding more people to quality control, will not eliminate potential risk. In fact, it could increase the risk level. To err is to be human; the more people you have added to your workflow, the greater the chance for simple mistakes. Manual quality control processes are not measurable or repeatable, these are all half measures that can lead to integrity breaches, auditing headaches, and declines in productivity.
What non-compliance looks like
Everything done at each tactical step of the lifecycle of a mail piece – the composition, printing, insertion, sortation – must be part of the compliance ecosystem. There must be a clear audit trail along the way, both to provide users with end-to-end visibility and accountability, but also to provide the peace of mind that the A-to-Z process of creating and delivering a mail piece was successful – and if not, determine and correct what exactly derailed the process.
For example, let’s say that a service bureau recently purchased a new inserter. The business wanted to have the latest inserting equipment to insert an explanation of benefits into envelopes quickly and with accuracy.
What happens if the inserter operator tries to manually correct a stoppage and accidentally puts a page from one patient’s explanation of benefits into the envelope intended for another patient? Whether you’re in the U.S. or the EU, that would be a major breach of both HIPAA and GDPR – and carry major fines as a penalty.
Businesses must have a set of tools and processes in place to ensure that certain tasks, whether automated or manual, are completed. Ideally, they should automate this process and eliminate any potential for human error. When just one part of the print and mail ecosystem is at risk, it can lead to non-compliance. The chain of custody of a mail piece is only as strong as its weakest link.
Holistic solutions for everyday businesses
In-house mail operators must ensure the right documents reach the right recipients, especially in highly regulated industries. One misplaced document can lead to major financial fines and impact reputation. Optimizing the end-to-end mail piece lifecycle with compliance in mind, and ensuring all print, insert, sort and mailing equipment is producing at high quality and integrity, is business critical.
Additionally, service bureaus risk potential fines or reputational damage if the customer documents they hand off to their chosen postal delivery service do not make it to their final destination, and do so intact. Businesses must eliminate these types of mistakes to operate at a high level of integrity. When that integrity falls short, it could lead to clients losing confidence in processing capabilities and, eventually, a loss of business.
Focusing on maintaining compliance requires print and mail operations to be nimble and collaborative. By augmenting existing workflows and solutions, businesses can build a truly compliant workflow.
BlueCrest works with you to ensure that your business has the right technology and processes to ensure an ecosystem of compliance and visibility. These tools or solutions do not need to be brand new. We also work with clients to augment their existing solutions to better meet regulatory needs – from the composition, printing, insertion and sortation of a mail piece to maintaining an end-to-end audit trail.
Our software solutions can help simplify compliance, add integrity to your print and mail operation, and help provide proof of process. Not sure how to get started? Our Solutions Engineering and Delivery services can help businesses develop individualized audit solutions so they can show proof of compliance and keep client data secure.