As the world slowly but surely returns to normal, surveyors will take to the road once again to visit durable medical equipment organizations across the United States. For several months CMS suspended the accreditation process. On August 12, 2020, CMS gave the approval to resume surveys both onsite and virtual visits (with a follow up onsite visit), or a combination of onsite and virtual survey. With these new guidelines, CMS and the accrediting bodies are beginning to resume surveys with slightly revised procedures and protocols.
I remember filling out paperwork for the first formal job I ever had – a dishwasher and busboy for a restaurant. Some family friends owned the restaurant, so the paperwork was a formality. I remember that it included an application and some kind of a note from my parents since I was under 16 years of age. I didn’t have a driver’s license or a passport, so it’s anybody’s guess what I used for identification or if they even asked for it. I also remember that the simple paperwork seemed intrusive and complicated.
New Year’s Day --with its resolutions, new beginnings, and fresh start attitude-- is a perfect time of year to reflect on continuous improvement and making ourselves better as not only individuals, but as companies set up to serve the public and our customers. It is also a good time to review ways to improve our bottom line, our operational efficiencies, our general attitude, and our business practices. This sometimes requires revisiting mistakes from our past, things we did wrong, and looking at how we’ve improved them. Deficiencies from our past surveys are certainly a worthwhile thing to look at it in an effort to improve.
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
On a recent survey, a DME manager was surprised when I asked about the schedule for their marketing representative so I could set up some time to talk to her. The organization was not being argumentative, but were truly surprised to find me interested in chatting with her about her the marketing she was doing. “She really doesn’t have anything to do with the accreditation process and her work has no impact on accreditation at all”, they explained.
Fed Ex, UPS, and the US Postal Service have consistent, easily identifiable, and even iconic delivery vehicles. Pizza delivery vehicles often sport magnetic signs and/or rooftop billboards identifying the vehicle as part of their organization. And who hasn’t seen an Edible Arrangements truck cruising down the highway? This “branding” serves several useful purposes including marketing an organization. Delivery vehicles have been part of home medical equipment services since the inception of the industry. Be it a large truck from an industrial gas company, a cargo van, open pickup truck, or even a small, gas efficient compact car, delivery vehicles are an integral part of any DME organization.
Companies going through an accreditation process usually experience at least some degree of anxiety. The importance of achieving and maintaining accreditation is often “life and death” to an organization—lose it and you may not be able to continue billing or receive referrals from a payer or a referral source. If it’s the first time you’re going through the process, you can also add the fear of the unknown to that equation. Add these factors together and you have a combination that can cause a lot of stress!
The nature of accreditation is that a company embraces a continuous quality improvement methodology and operates its business in compliance with laws, regulations, and industry best practices to the best of its ability. Accreditation is a journey not just a destination – a journey full of learning opportunities, education, and revision and tweaking of your company’s processes and procedures.
That process doesn’t lend itself well to quick “punch lists” and it is not advisable to look for shortcuts along the journey. However,
Organizations are sometimes surprised to find out that surveyors look at various state and federal laws along with accreditation standards during the survey. The fact of the matter is that law and regulation overlaps accreditation standards in many ways and in many places. In fact, many accreditation standards have their basis in law and regulation. Standard ORG 2 states that an organization willdemonstrate compliance with “all required federal, state, and local licenses, permits, certifications, and registration requirements”. It also references compliance with Medicare enrollment standards, meaning that you must comply with the Quality Standards, which were the basis for all accreditation standards. Essentially, what ORG 2 says is that you must follow all applicable law and regulation.
In healthcare and the healthcare workplace, competency assessment has become crucial to ensuring employees—particularly those providing direct patient care—have the necessary training and skill to do their job and care for their patients.
For DMEs that provides medical equipment and supplies to patients, this concept of assessing and maintaining staff competence is crucial, and sometimes misunderstood.