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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
Sentinel – noun – “A soldier or guard whose job is to stand and keep watch”
Sentinel – verb –"To watch over, stand guard, or protect some place, person, or area”
In medical industries, sentinel events are defined as “unanticipated events or occurrences resulting in death or serious injury to a patient; not related to the patient’s illness, but related to the medical equipment, supplies, or care being provided." For the purposes of our discussion here, “adverse events” and “sentinel events” are one in the same.
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.