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”.
Accreditation documentation requirements for the human resource files are relatively straightforward, yet the human resource (“HR”) standards continue to be some of the most frequently cited standards and generate the most questions from DME customers. HQAA’s recent standards revisions and updates included several of the HR standards. This fact, along with the continued questions and citations for HR standards suggest it was time to revisit the personnel file and review expectations.
During that little pandemic thing we dealt with 2020-2022, our structure, processes, and even values changed in many ways. It can be argued that many of these changes made us stronger, more flexible, and more efficient. Think of things like teleconferencing for meetings, billers working from home, porch drop off deliveries, and virtual equipment set up/instruction. We, as an industry, were pretty resilient. Some of the changes however were generally perceived to be negatives. For instance: we lost in-person customer service skills. Good, bad, or indifferent, our industry adapted to these changes quickly. In some cases, it’s safe to say we’re never going back.
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.
Topics: Employee Training, Security, Quality Improvement, Renewing Accreditation, Compliance, Process Improvement, Materials Management, Showroom, Retail, Warehouse, Work, Disaster Preparedness, Business Practices, Marketing, Equipment
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
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.
I like the analogy that compares an organization’s staff to a sports team. You have a coach (an owner, manager, or supervisor). You have players/team members (the staff). You have a common goal (winning the “game”; game defined as whatever your goal is—be it increasing sales, improving some process, or achieving better customer satisfaction). You have a set of rules (think of the myriad regulations, billing/reimbursements requirements, etc.). And you work toward that shared, common goal together; team members supporting each other to “win.”
Topics: Employee Training
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!”
Surveyors for all the accrediting organizations are back on the road now, surveying up a storm and working to catch up the backlog of new customers and ongoing customers who were scheduled for survey in that March to July 2020 time period. It’s good to be back doing what we love, even with some accommodations and new processes in place.