Monday, July 25, 2011

Q. What are some problem areas in surveys?

A. Regardless of who you use as accreditation organization, there are some common requirements that have been problematic for providers.

Performance improvement. This is more than just customer satisfaction surveys sitting in a pile. At minimum, you must aggregate and analyze data the results to determine if the process being measured meets expectations and review for opportunities to improve. Collect data on billing and coding errors, complaints, timeliness of response to customer complaints (see #2 below), incidents, illnesses/infection in the patient population you serve, and of course, customer satisfaction. Your specific accreditor may require some additional topics.

Timeliness of response to customer complaints. If you log anything as a complaint, you must have written correspondence provided to the customer within 14 calendar days. 

Lack of a complete physician order or changes not confirmed in writing. If you provide oxygen, get hours per day and liter flow and method of administration in a written order from the physician. "Two liters with portability" is NOT a complete physician's order. "Two liters 18-24 hours per day via nasal cannula with portability" is a complete order. A specific order is required for providing an oxygen conserving device.

Equipment Maintenance. There are lots of minefields here. Document performance at intervals required by the manufacturer (or your own defined frequency if the manufacturer is vague).

Idiot-proof the warehouse. Communicate via location/tags/signage the status of dirty vs. repair/maintenance vs. patient ready equipment. Keep equipment clean while in storage. 

And finally, your company needs to have a budget that has projected revenues and expenses. There must be an orientation checklist in all employee records. HME

Vianna Zimbel is president of Vianna Zimbel Consulting. Reach her at or 860-657-0530.