What Are You Proud Of?

Posted by Steve DeGenaro on Wed, Apr 10, 2024 @ 04:05 PM

Blog_24-04-10-1Employees, managers, and owners of DME organizations accredited by HQAA may have noticed a familiar question that usually pops up during the survey: “What is your organization (or “this location”) proud of? It is almost de rigueur for the surveyors to ask that question at some point during the survey process. Asked that question by a surveyor, the tendency is to consider how it relates to a standard and it’s only natural to think “Gee, how do I answer that” or “What’s the ‘right’ answer here”. Truth is there’s no right or wrong answer. The surveyor is trying to paint a picture of the organization to enhance and supplement their own understanding of your company.

The question and how your organization will answer it says a lot about your corporate culture, business ethics, personal motivations, and the very reason for you being there. It defines your company, much like the mission statement, and puts the whole survey into context. It gives you a chance to brag on the company for a bit and tell your surveyor why you are in business. And hopefully it gives you a chance (as the owner, manager, or employee) to reflect on your company’s performance and purpose.

Having asked that question countless times in all fifty states and a couple US territories, I’ve seen enough to notice a couple powerful trends which bode well for the industry and our society as well. In no particular order, here’s some observations about how consistent we are as an industry and as a people:

It’s never about the bottom line or hitting some financial milestone. Asked what they’re most proud of, the answer is almost always something about people, job satisfaction, helping customers, or supporting the community. In retrospect, I guess this doesn’t surprise me. Making the first million is an admirable goal, but it’s not what we live our lives for.

Owners are proud to keep their employees employed and working. Some talk about how their business allows “X” number of employees to be productive workers. Some cite pride at paying their employees bonuses and profit sharing. Its quasi-financial in nature, but this pride is more about the employees than the owner, partnership, or stockholders. During the Covid pandemic, this became even more difficult and seemed to give owners an even bigger sense of pride and achievement.

Owners are as proud of their employee’s achievements as they are of their own. I had one owner at a rural DME absolutely gush about three employees. One was a customer service representative who decided to become a respiratory therapist and worked at the DME through RT school. She continued to work at the DME in her clinical role. The second was a delivery tech, who became an ATP. He also continued to work at the DME through his schooling and continued to work there as an ATP. The third was a retail clerk, who pursued an MBA. He was the operations manager and ran an outstanding QI program for the company. The owner practically teared up talking about these three individuals. “It made us a better company—but it also helped the three employees stay happy with their careers” he reported.

Adversity (declining reimbursement) builds character in the DME industry. Not one owner or manager said they LIKED the reimbursement cuts our industry has faced over the last decade, but many admit it has brought out the best in some of us. They talk about how the employees pulled together and figured out how to make cuts by adding to their job responsibilities, working harder/longer/more efficiently, and streamlining programs. I will always remember one owner who recounted enthusiastically how his employees came up with a plan to reduce their hours in order to avoid layoffs. Their “we’re all in this together” attitude was a huge point of pride for the owner and entire company.

Keeping up with industry changes and technology improvements is something to be proud of. More than one owner has reminisced about the “good ole days” billing from 1500 forms. “I’m proud that we have adapted. We use Brightree for billing, Quick Books for accounting, and IPAD’s for delivery clipboards” one owner told me. He embraced the technology to help manage his business and admitted it would be hard to be efficient without the technology. Another owner—a fellow respiratory therapist—was proud that he kept up with the times with regards to ventilator and oxygen therapy equipment. “I’m old enough to belong to AARP, and became an RT before computers, but I still can take call and troubleshoot microprocessor ventilator issues with the ‘youngsters’” he rightfully bragged.

We take good care of our patients no matter what. Almost always, one of the key points of pride is the fact that the company HELPS. They alleviate pain, improve the quality of life, and help folks maintain independence. More than one company I’ve surveyed encouraged employees to carry around photos of their parents and grandparents to remind them to take care of patients as if they were your family.

Thinking about the things that make us proud of what we do is a useful exercise. Hopefully this survey question triggers some well-deserved pride and sense of accomplishment. I remember asking an owner who ran a company that provided speech generating devices to assist in communication (yep, these are considered DMEPOS) what he was most proud of with his company. We were sitting in his office under a wall of beautiful photos of dozens of patient/customers who had his devices and were able to communicate because of the devices. He simply swept an arm up indicate the photos, put his hand on his heart, and smiled with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.


Topics: Surveys