From coffee shops to hardware stores, home appliances to automobiles, food at grocery stores and restaurants, lumber, paint, clothing, eggs, and even DMEPOS…. how many times have you heard the phrase “supply chain issues” in the last few years? Along with a crippling pandemic, staffing shortages, and a couple major equipment recalls, supply chain issues were something we all had to cope with and learn to work around in the marketplace. It became an almost mantra-like excuse, explaining away why goods were not available, or why there were delays, or why the cost of product and shipping was rising so dramatically.
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.
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.
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.
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
A phrase we’re hearing a lot through this crisis and pandemic is “new normal”. As in, there’s a new normal out there that involves social distancing, wearing masks, working from home, restaurants and non-essential businesses closed or working limited hours, and on and on and on. Every person has had some aspect of their life changed in sometimes small, sometimes profound ways. Of course, this applies to medical equipment providers as much as anyone else.
Here we are several months into the pandemic. It appears perhaps the worst is behind us and the world is slowly starting to re-open. For many, the novelty of sheltering in place has worn off and folks are ready to get back to work. In the durable medical equipment industry, work has continued as our companies have been considered “essential services” and for the most part, stayed open and done business during and despite Covid-19.
In all aspects of a person’s life, the first of the year affords an opportunity to “start fresh,” begin again, and resolve to improve. Every year, I humbly suggest all business owners and managers take a look at their organizations, take stock in what they’ve accomplished, consider opportunities for improvement, and resolve to make the next year better than the last one.