In early November, each year, our minds turn to Thanksgiving. No surprise that Thanksgiving ranks as one of many American’s favorite holidays. It’s a time of positive reflection, a time to literally give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, and the gateway to the triumvirate of important holidays (Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s Day). And then there’s the food: a grand feast of turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, rolls, and pecan and pumpkin pie. For many people, it’s a glorious four-day weekend of eating, watching football games, visiting with family and friends, and reflection on the past year.
In our January 2022 blog, we talked about fraud, waste, and abuse and touched on compliance programs. The article prompted questions and comments from quite a few organizations and questions of late suggest it might be a good time to do a deeper dive on compliance programs.
Compliance “programs” are sets of policies & procedures specifically designed to help an organization adhere to law and regulation. These policies and procedures are specifically set up to detect, prevent, and correct fraud, waste, and abuse. Medicare requires any provider to have such a program and they have very specific content they want these policies to contain.
Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States had a famous slogan, which appeared on a plaque on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here”. Referring to “passing the buck”; that is, shifting blame or responsibility, the saying demonstrates a person’s willingness and ability to take responsibility, find solutions, and lead by example.
A dictionary defines disclosure as “the action of making new information known or the action or process of revealing information.” In the medical world, healthcare providers define disclosure as “a release of information to persons or entities other than the patient who is the subject of the information.”
Just about every July 4th, I’m reminded of a holiday weekend in the late 1980’s, when I was just a pup. Well, not a “pup”, but a young respiratory therapist working in homecare and enjoying the Monday-Friday routine with no weekends, no holidays, and no night shifts. As an RT, to be in your late 20’s, and achieve a job with no shift work and no holidays was pretty amazing. I had mentors from the local hospitals that were my parent’s generation who were still working every other weekend and still working shifts and holidays. This particular July 4th fell on a Monday or a Friday (I don’t remember which), meaning there was a three-day weekend associated with it. Picnics, fireworks, getting together with friends, and a trip to the lake were all on the schedule. For the first time since college, I wasn’t going to be working a night shift or a holiday day over this important summer holiday!
You could write a book about “employee vs. contractor” pros, cons, legality, and operational efficiency. In fact, there are books written about that very subject. There are also lawyers who specialize in employment law who advise companies about how to structure their staffing around those two broad categories of staff. While accreditation organizations won’t delve into the legalities (that’s for the lawyers to do), accreditation standards DO in fact address both categories of staffing.
Topics: Employee Training, Personnel Files, HQAA Accreditation, Clinical Practice Guidelines, Quality Care, Retail, Delivery, Clinical Respiratory Services, Competence, Customer Service, Business Practices, Surveys, Equipment
Those of us who have been in the DME industry for enough years remember when every DME organization in the country had a storage room full of vertical files and/or bank boxes full of old patient records. The boxes were stored in piles, often piled up to the ceiling. Usually there were labels or writing on the boxes—something like “April 1987-January 1988” or “1990—A-L”. The boxes and filing cabinets were full of manila and Pend-a-flex folders labeled with patient names and chock full of medical records, billing information, social security numbers, dates of birth, and enough demographic information to make a telemarketer’s day.
It's tempting to believe that those Amazon trucks that zip down your street every day are a completely new phenomenon. But if you believed that, you’d be wrong. Today, Amazon trucks descend on neighborhoods bringing appliances, clothes, books & music, and even groceries. A generation earlier, we ordered music from flyers in the newspaper—carefully selecting stamps with our favorite titles and sticking them on the order page, promising to buy four or five additional albums in return for a half dozen free ones up front. And the generation before that ordered small appliances and kitchenware from Jewel T men. And the generation before that could order up a mail order “kit house” from the Sears Roebuck Catalog. Truth be told, mail order is as old as the mail itself. Subsequent generations have refined the practice over the last century and a half; but the practice of mail order anything is not new!
In the durable medical equipment industry—as well as in life—it always pays to have a backup plan! Whether its backing up data on the cloud, having contingency plans for staffing issues, or having multiple suppliers for a particular piece of equipment, these plans have saved countless heartaches, businesses, and even lives. While all of these are important, let’s focus today on a company’s responsibility to have adequate back up equipment for their existing customer/patients.
The pandemic has changed how we look at employment in the United States in a multitude of ways. Many of us now “telecommute” to work, which opens up the opportunity to live farther from the office than ever before. Young people have new and different considerations and priorities when it comes to accepting a job. And of course, there’s the fact that it is increasingly more difficult to recruit and retain good long-term employees. Complicating these issues specifically in our industry are the pesky and sometimes misunderstood background check requirements.