When the ball dropped at the stroke of midnight January 1 this year, did you make any resolutions? Most people do—sometimes a new diet, an exercise program (January 1st is traditionally the busiest day in a gym!), a more responsible financial plan, or some version of “be a better person” by saying something nice to a new person every day or trying to bestow a compliment on a stranger.
I imagine it’s the same in other industries—December in DME can be a hectic, scatterbrained race to the finish. (“The finish” in this case being the end of the year). Financially speaking, it’s a time to try to maximize earnings and pad the bottom line, wrapping up billing cycles and completing tasks to prepare financially for the new year. Patient/customers that have met their deductible are anxious trying to consume healthcare before a new deductible cycle begins. December 31st is the end of a quarter, the end of a month, and the end of the year and there’s two major holidays –Christmas and New Year to work around. Staff wants to spend time with their families. And of course, company holiday parties abound.
Topics: Employee Training, Personnel Files, Billing, HQAA Accreditation, Process Improvement, Materials Management, Showroom, Delivery, Warehouse, Customer Service, Disaster Preparedness, Emergencies, Business Practices, Infection Control, DMEPOS
One of my funniest memories from surveying was many years ago at a small DME company in the Midwest. The staff was pleasant and accommodating and had been well prepared for the survey. But for some reason (probably related to a co-worker’s retelling of a “bad” survey that she’d gone through), the staff was pretty nervous about the accreditation visit. I pride myself on NOT presenting an intimidating attitude, but the staff at this place thought I was the police, the IRS, and the guy in charge of the Inquisition rolled into one. I tried my best to put the staff at ease. At one point, I asked a customer service representative about how they conveyed information on the patient’s rights and responsibilities to new customers. She fumbled through a pretty good answer. I asked her if she could name one of the responsibilities and she answered that they need to inform the company if they move or if their insurance changes (a good answer). I asked her if she could name a right and she froze up. Finally, she took a deep breath and blurted out: “The right to remain silent”.
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.
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of DME owners, managers, and staff more than the Office of the Inspector General (the “OIG”). The fear is perhaps deserved by an extremely small handful of industry people. The vast majority of our industry rank and file have nothing to fear from this sometimes maligned and misunderstood government agency.
Ask any owner what they think the most intrusive part of an accreditation survey is and chances are pretty good they’ll mention the financial documents review portion. In my experience, this is because of two equally important reasons: 1) It is certainly information that a business owner does not like or feel comfortable sharing, and 2) Many -if not most- DME business owners are more conversant in and knowledgeable talking about the day to day issues they face in their businesses. Things like new billing software, technological advances with medical equipment, and those new “Sprinter” delivery vehicles are all topics that they love to chat about with fellow business owners. How much money they actually put in their pockets and how difficult (or easy) it was to pay the bills that keep the lights on are topics we just don’t feel as comfortable sharing.
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.
Topics: Employee Training, HIPAA, Security, Personnel Files, Quality Improvement, Billing, Renewing Accreditation, Quality Standards, HQAA Accreditation, HME Accreditation Requirements, Patient File Requirements, Compliance, Patient Privacy, Clinical Practice Guidelines, Materials Management, Avoiding Deficiencies, CMS, Complaint Process, Quality Care, Showroom, Retail, Delivery, Clinical Respiratory Services, Oxygen, Warehouse, Safety Officer, Competence, Customer Service, Disaster Preparedness, Emergencies, Business Practices, Marketing
Topics: Quality, Employee Training, HIPAA, Personnel Files, Quality Improvement, Billing, Quality Standards, Patient File Requirements, Compliance, Patient Privacy, Process Improvement, Materials Management, Avoiding Deficiencies, Showroom, Retail, Delivery, Warehouse, Safety Officer
HME organizations struggle with the concept and implementation of informing their customers of their financial responsibilities. This area of patient rights is often misunderstood and sometimes poorly implemented by organizations. To establish an effective procedure and mindset for your staff and to serve your customers appropriately, it is important to understand the rationale for this right and requirement.