2023. We’re twenty-three years into the new millennium. Medicare is close to sixty years old. Time is marching on quickly—relentlessly, some would say. New Year’s Eve parties continue the great tradition of partying into the wee hours, ringing in the New Year with a toast, and getting up January 1st with a renewed optimism, a positive outlook on life, and a list of resolutions to improve. You might say it is a great example of continuous quality improvement.
Vern McLellan, noted author and inspirational speaker, once said: “What the New Year brings you depends a lot on what you bring the New Year.” Rather than ruminating about the past and bemoaning the relentless march of time, a useful strategy is to use January 1st of any year as a time of rebirth and recommitment to the quality principles that hopefully guided you in starting up your company. Go into the new year excited and optimistic and ready to make positive changes.
Don’t just focus of diet, exercise, and saving more money when you list out your New Year’s resolutions. Include DME-style resolutions that improve your company, such as:
- Resolve to cut costs and shop around for major and minor purchases whenever possible.
- Resolve to work more efficiently during regular business hours (and decrease both overtime and also inefficient practices from not completing tasks or paperwork timely).
- Resolve to tackle major warehouse projects such as a thorough cleaning and re-organizing your warehouse.
- Resolve to get rid of obsolete equipment—donate it, sell it, or throw it away.
- Resolve to schedule deliveries more efficiently. With gas prices as high as they are, every time you start up the van or truck to do a delivery run, it costs money. True, that’s the cost of doing business, but nobody says you can’t efficiently schedule deliveries to improve your bottom line.
- Resolve to reach out to a new referral source every week—increased marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Simply contact a new office in your area and ask if you can help them with their patient’s home medical equipment and supply needs.
- Resolve to spend more time on quality improvement activities. It’s easy to put those indicator research projects on the back burner or autopilot. Instead, think through the issue and consider tweaking the indicator to gain useful insights and make real improvements.
- Resolve to talk more to your patient/customers. Nobody can tell you more about your services than the very recipients of that service.
- Resolve to spend an hour or two a week reading up on the industry. Whether its HME NEWS, industry newsletters and literature, or internet blogs about DME; there’s a bunch of new technologies, trends, and factoids out there that have “happened” since you got into the business. You can’t stay current without doing this.
- Resolve to invest more in your human resources. Meaning your employees. And “invest more” doesn’t necessarily mean pay a higher wage. Invest in perks, treats, and sending them to educational programs. Consider structuring perks and treats based on incentives.
Another issue that the new year should trigger is annual checks—the many things we are supposed to do annually. Nobody said you have to do these December 31st or January 1st, but it’s a good way to start the year and since it’s a time of “renewal”, there’s no better time. Annual tasks, checks, and reviews include:
- Annual budget and financial statements/review
- Annual review of your quality improvement program findings and results
- Annual review of your emergency and disaster preparedness program/process
- Annual fire drill
- Annual fire extinguisher checks (depending on manufacturer recommendations, of course)
- Competency assessments and performance evaluations that are due “this year”
- Check/monitor progress of annual education in-service program
- Annual background checks (in some states)
Last, but most importantly, think about your resolutions and resolve to stick to them. Human nature is such that we make these resolutions and days or weeks or months later, we falter. These “resolutions” are all good for the health and well-being of your company. Incorporate the changes into your daily operations and weave them into the fabric of your life.
CHEERS TO A NEW YEAR --AND ANOTHER CHANCE TO GET IT RIGHT! –Oprah Winfrey