Q. We're one of those companies that hasn't yet become accredited. How do we get started?
A. For those HME providers just making the move toward accreditation, keep the following points in mind:
* Do not hesitate any longer. We see some companies requiring up to nine months to fully prepare for accreditation. Choose your accrediting body first. Do your homework and look at all your options before making a final decision.
* Set a goal for getting accredited and make sure it's realistic. I recommend a six-month time frame.
* You need a customized policy and procedure manual explaining how to comply with the accreditation standards. Make sure the manual you purchase is comprehensive, and that the company that provides it has a good track record for getting companies accredited with the accrediting body you've chosen.
* If you do not have the time or the staff to help you implement the standards, find someone qualified and knowledgeable to give you guidance.
* Remember, in addition to addressing issues like safety and infection control, accreditation requires training of your staff and ensuring proper education and training to your patients.
* Do not complete or turn in your accreditation application until you are at least 75% ready for the survey. You don't want an unannounced surveyor showing up in the middle of your implementation work.
* Don't get caught off-guard. On the day of your survey, be ready with a detailed explanation, if asked, of how your organization approached compliance with each of the accreditation standards. Be prepared.
* If you need help implementing accreditation, there may be some start-up costs. Don't hire a consultant who will not guarantee accreditation. hme
Denise Jones is a partner with the IBNetwork Inc., a consulting firm that prepares HME providers to beome accredited. Reach her at 800-447-7201 or e-mail her at email@example.com.