Thursday, August 25, 2011

Q. How do you make performance management real?  

A. Having a performance management program--required by CMS's accreditation standards--has been problematic for many HMEs because most are entrepreneurial and nimble, adjusting process and policies very quickly when a referral source complains or a revenue generating activity fails. Everyone should be involved and empowered to identify activities that are counter-productive to an efficient company whose goals are to provide safe, effective medical items and to get paid for those services. Take your most vocal employee, perhaps the one who complains a lot, and put them on the committee with the rule that any problem brought to the table must be accompanied by a proposed resolution. 

The Medicare Quality Standards stipulate that you measure: 

Complaints; and whether the customer was sent a written response within 14 days.

"Impact of the supplier's business practices on the adequacy of beneficiary access to equipment, items, services, and information" (I suggest putting a question on your satisfaction survey: "Did you get what you need?"). 

Medicare claims denied, errors you find in records after you have been notified of a claims denial; and 

Review any incident reports. 

Customer satisfaction: how you collect responses is entirely up to you. Keep it relevant to what you want to know about the experience your customers had with your company; and keep it simple.   

For most topics, you have a numerator and a denominator (18 out of 20 customer responses = 90%). You determine your "comfort level" for acceptable results, (referred to as a 'threshold'). If the findings are below acceptable levels, a clear action plan identifying who is responsible for the activity, when it is going to occur, and what the expected changes will be as a result of the activity should be spelled out in the report.  

As the Nike ad says: "Just do it." Put a date on the calendar, hold the meetings, collect and compare data over time. Focus on a problematic issue, let everyone know your company is working on clearly identified target goals, and an amazing evolution toward achievement will occur. HME

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