Accreditation draws spotlight

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

LAS VEGAS - No issue warrants as much attention or carries more importance than mandatory accreditation at Medtrade Spring this year, show officials say.
With the industry fixated on the release of CMS's mandatory quality standards due in early April, Medtrade seminar programmers have assembled a series of educational sessions designed to give HME providers a multi-dimensional view of the entire accreditation process, from application through certification.
Mary Ellen Conway, president of Bethesda, Md.-based Capital Healthcare Group, serves on the Medtrade educational advisory committee and is making two major presentations on the accreditation issue. Her goal: to de-mystify the accreditation concept and allay providers' anxiety about the requirements.
"People are definitely feeling panicked, confused and frustrated right now," she said. "There are so many questions about it. Do they need to be accredited if they're not planning to be involved with competitive bidding? Will their [metropolitan statistical area] be included? If the timetable for mandatory accreditation is 2007, does that mean by January or December? There are so many variables they want to know about."
That is why Conway and her colleagues have put together an unprecedented package of accreditation seminars at Medtrade Spring. Along with Conway's two sessions, the line-up consists of the following programs: A panel discussion on mandatory accreditation, featuring representatives from JCAHO, CHAP and ACHC; common accreditation requirements with The MED Group's Vianna Zimbel; and compliance assurance with Roberta Domos of the Domos HME Consulting Group.
Art Ellis, group vice president of the Medtrade shows for Alpharetta, Ga.-based VNU Expositions, said survey results from the Atlanta show last October clearly showed that providers are hungry for details regarding accreditation. Thus, the spring show's offerings "will most likely be among our most attended programs."
To date, HME accrediting bodies report that many providers are showing interest in the process but so far have largely remained uncommitted. Conway believes that this hesitation isn't due to disdain for accreditation, but merely a methodical decision-making approach.
"They are not intentionally procrastinating to make a decision--they are doing everything possible to make a wise decision," Conway said. "We want to help them do that."
Once seminar attendees hear what the speakers have to say, they should find themselves more relaxed about the process, said Medtrade educational advisory committee member Jeff Baird.
"They will find out that accreditation is not rocket science," said Baird, chairman of Amarillo, Texas-based Brown & Fortunato's healthcare group. "They'll see that the fear of the unknown is much greater than the reality."