HQAA Blog

DME Policy Manuals

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Thu, Nov 08, 2018 @ 10:28 AM

Many in the home medical equipment industry equate policy manuals to their accreditation inspections. And of course, these bulky tomes are certainly a large part of the accreditation and survey experience for every DME. Policy manuals serve as the road map for how work gets done within an organization, a set of rules for the organization, and the document that defines the structure, function, and philosophy of the organization. Let’s look at what a policy manual should contain and how it impacts not only accreditation, but also the overall day-to-day operation of an organization.

A well-crafted policy manual should contain not only policies, but also procedures. Think of a “policy” as a guiding principle, used to steer an organization in some direction. A policy should also define or describe a course of action that is to be taken. “Procedure” is the steps to be followed to accomplish whatever the policy described. The steps are spelled out so that the organization’s staff can accomplish a task in a consistent manner. The policy is the what and the procedure is the how to.

Policies and procedures may be contained within the same document or within two separate documents. They can be hard copy, old-school paper in a binder or electronic files stored on your organization’s hard drive. The key to the success of your policy manual is that it is accessible by all staff and well understood and followed. Since the manual is considered a set of rules, the staff must be aware of the rules and where the rule book is stored, so they can use the manual on an on-going basis to refer back to when questions arise.

DME policy manuals are sometimes written by the staff and management of an organization. Other times, home medical equipment organizations will purchase a template, which uses boilerplate policies and procedures. Both can be used effectively. If you write your own, include the staff that actually has to live with the policy and utilize the procedure as you craft the document. If you use a template, be sure to customize and personalize the policies and procedures so that it accurately defines the principle and the steps to be followed in the procedures. Change the template’s verbiage to match your actual practices, not the other way around.

Written policies and procedures that are required by law and regulation, payer requirements, or accreditation standards include:

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Topics: Business Practices, HME Accreditation Requirements, Quality Standards, Compliance, HQAA Accreditation, Patient File Requirements, Employee Training, Renewing Accreditation, Patient Privacy, Materials Management, Personnel Files, Avoiding Deficiencies, Quality Improvement, Complaint Process, CMS, Billing, Clinical Practice Guidelines, Emergencies, Disaster Preparedness, Customer Service, Marketing, Safety Officer, Competence, Warehouse, Oxygen, Delivery, Clinical Respiratory Services, Showroom, Retail, Quality Care, Security, HIPAA

Hepatitis B and DME Personnel

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Mon, Oct 08, 2018 @ 09:27 AM

New employees who apply and secure jobs with durable medical equipment companies are often surprised to find out that they are being offered vaccinations to protect them against Hepatitis B.  In fact, some new employees find it unsettling to learn that their new job offers this “benefit” because of increased exposure risk to this dreaded but somewhat misunderstood disease.  Let’s dispel some myths and lay out the basic facts about the disease, its prevention, and why healthcare workers are being offered this vaccination.  

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Topics: Business Practices, Delivery, Clinical Practice Guidelines, Personnel Files, Employee Training

Are You ‘Any Willing Provider’?

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 11:08 AM

In July 2018, CMS made a rather important announcement: that effective January 1, 2019, after the current bid schedule expires December 31st, 2018, any Medicare provider can supply durable medical equipment and supplies to Medicare patients/recipients.  This will likely continue until the next round of bidding takes place, which will be at least a calendar year later.  This rule revision, known in the industry as the “Any Willing Provider” provision, is something the industry has talked about since competitive bidding began. “Wouldn’t it be fair,” one provider I spoke with posited, “if they {CMS} settled on a bid amount and opened it up to any credentialed, accredited, licensed DME to provide equipment and services?”

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Topics: Marketing, Retail, CMS

Re-inventing Your DME

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 @ 10:33 AM

People have thrown around the words “re-invent,” “re-imagine,” and “re-purpose” in regards to their career, their life’s goals, their outlook, and their businesses quite a bit in the last decade.  It is considered chic to reinvent ourselves—in both our personal lives and our careers and businesses.  And it’s becoming more and more useful and important to do that in our DME businesses today.  Reimbursement changes (and by “changes”, we almost always mean “cuts”), as well as technological advances, coupled with the changing styles of consumerism, how people shop, and the fact that customers are willing to pay for an increasing amount of their healthcare all make the environment ripe and ready for change!  

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Topics: Marketing, Customer Service, Business Practices

Death, Dying & DME

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 @ 12:11 PM

A cousin of mine just passed away a few months ago after a long illness.  He was fortunate to be able to spend his last few weeks at home with the family and friends he loved around him, either looking out the window at his beautiful backyard or some days, on the back porch.  “Fortunate” is a relative word: he was in his early 50’s and should have lived a lot longer.  On the other hand, after weeks in hospitals and long term acute care (LTAC) facilities, he (and his family) were grateful that he was able to spend his last days at home.  During those last weeks, he tapped into the durable medical equipment industry more than most people do in a lifetime.  

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Topics: Customer Service, Oxygen, Delivery, Quality Care

Ongoing Staff Education in Your HME Organization

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Tue, Jun 05, 2018 @ 03:12 PM

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today” ……………Malcolm X

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Topics: Employee Training, HME Accreditation Requirements

Isn’t All Ventilator Care ‘Clinical'?

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Fri, May 11, 2018 @ 03:53 PM

HQAA fields quite a few questions about ventilator care and whether or not the care is “clinical” in nature or non-clinical.  It may be helpful to clarify some points about ventilator care and review the definition of clinical respiratory services. 

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Topics: Ventilator Unit, Quality Care, Clinical Practice Guidelines, AARC

Emergency and Disaster Preparedness

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Wed, Apr 04, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

The last year has given us several natural disasters.  We’ve seen “Nor’easters”, major fires, hurricanes, floods, and mudslides, which left major highways destroyed and communities completely isolated.  It’s been a rough year! 

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Topics: Disaster Preparedness, Emergencies

A Brief History of Home Oxygen Therapy

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Tue, Mar 06, 2018 @ 09:27 AM

Mathematician and author Vernor Vinge popularized (and named) the notion that technological change grows exponentially.  He called the phenomenon “exponentially accelerating change” and wrote both scientific articles and popular culture fiction about the concept.  We have all heard statistics thrown around; such as the fact that your child’s IPOD has more capability than the computer on the Apollo mission that landed on the moon in 1969.  Or that we’ve developed more technology in the last 25 years than in the previous 10,000 years.  

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Topics: Oxygen, Delivery

The Lost Art of Customer Service

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Fri, Feb 02, 2018 @ 11:26 AM

Early in my consulting and inspecting career, I became fascinated by the concept of customer service.  Why are some organizations more customer service-oriented than others?  How do organizations promote a culture that encourages excellent customer service?  What can staff and management do to make customers happy with their experience?  I noticed that some of the medical equipment companies I visited had excellent customer service, others had mediocre customer service, and still others (not many, thankfully!) had horrible customer service.  I set out to understand the art of customer service and tried to answer the above questions by gathering fact patterns and collecting observations about the customer service I witnessed on my visits. 

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Topics: Customer Service