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.
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
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!
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.
Part of our family’s holiday season tradition is the annual watching of “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE”. The movie is –in my opinion, anyway--a masterpiece of happiness and positivity. The primary lesson of the movie is that our deeds, both good and bad, have a profound effect on the lives of other people in our circle of friends and family. The main character, George Bailey, finds out in dream sequences reminiscent of Charles Dicken’s “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” that his life has had profound meaning because of his good work, kind deeds, and charitable attitude.
Since the early days of the Covid pandemic, surveyors have been avoiding “home visits”—those interactive ride alongs where the surveyor goes with a delivery person or clinician to visit a patient/customer in their home. This is for the safety of the staff members, the surveyor, and most important, the patient/customer. Although our process has changed a bit over the last few months, the surveyors are still not going out on home visits and are not likely to start that process up again any time soon.
We’ve talked about retail showrooms before, but in the several years since we’ve covered the topic, retail has made a triumphant resurgence. The DME retail showroom’s amazing comeback is a product of a perfect storm of factors in the industry. Certainly, declining reimbursement and limitations to coverage for DME products and services is at least partially responsible. The fact that Baby Boomers are retiring and becoming eligible for Medicare is also a factor. Retirees today –compared to retirees of a decade or so ago—are tech savvy computer users who are comfortable shopping on line and also somewhat conditioned to paying for larger portions of their healthcare out of pocket. The bad news for local DME’s is that they are tech savvy and capable of shopping on Amazon-like platforms. The good news for local DME’s is that they are willing to pay more out of pocket for healthcare. Retail provides a “hedge” for your organization. If someone wants the traditional “deliver it and bill my insurance” DME model, you can do it. But you also have a showroom and are prepared to deal in cash.
Many durable medical equipment company employees equate “OSHA” with those plasticized posters typically hung in a breakroom or kitchen in the organization. Training requirements by both accreditation standards and OSHA itself have gone a long way to educating employees about the various OSHA mandated requirements and led to a better understanding of OSHA. This in turn has led to better adherence to the rules and regulations and ultimately to a safer workplace.
Imagine how hard it would be to adequately assess whether a person could do some specific task (such as teach school, perform surgery, re-wire a house’s electrical system, or build a bridge) without actually observing them doing that task. We hire employees based on applications and resumes, we evaluate their performance in a job by checking their attendance record to insure they show up to work on time, and we monitor a delivery person’s driver’s license or a clinician’s clinical license to make sure they haven’t expired or been revoked. But no tool works as well to assess a person’s ability to do their job as well as actually watching them do their job. Competency assessments are an integral part of the evaluative process and some would say, THE most important part of that process. If you are hiring a marksman for their ability to hit a target, at some point, you’re going to go out into the field and say “Show me what you’ve got!”
Because of the nature of our work, the durable medical equipment industry did not close our doors, shelter in place, or shut down for the Covid-19 Pandemic. We did, however, change the way we do business in many ways. Some of these changes will undoubtedly get back to normal as our nation and the world climb out of the pandemic. And of course, many of these changes will become the “new normal” and are destined to remain changed forever. At the time this blog article is being written, HQAA is carefully monitoring the industry as well as law and regulation and CMS policy to determine how accreditation surveys will be performed in both the short and long term. More on that in the weeks to come.
Topics: Employee Training, HIPAA, HME Accreditation Requirements, Patient File Requirements, Materials Management, Showroom, Retail, Delivery, Oxygen, Warehouse, Customer Service, Business Practices, Marketing, Infection Control