Accreditors: Expect inspections
During an Oct. 11 Open Door Forum, CMS said it had gotten word that some providers were refusing unannounced site surveys, but most accrediting agencies say that's not the case.
"I haven't had anybody turn me down," said Bob Weir, a surveyor for HQAA. "Sometimes, I walk in and people don't know who I am. There's a lot of people who think they just send in the application and it's ready to go."
Occasionally a provider has been unprepared, which can lead to an immediate denial of accreditation, said Bob Floro. In such cases, the agency works with the provider to move forward.
"Let's help the organization," said Floro, director for homecare accreditation at JCAHO. "We're there already; let's not use the survey as a punitive exercise but as an educational exercise. Let us come in and give you some value and advice."
Staying in close contact with clients is key, say accreditors.
"Our account managers stay in touch down to the wire," said Tom Cesar, president and CEO for ACHC. "They know once they've submitted a contract at some point we'll be out there."
Even without a set date for on-site surveys, providers can estimate when they can expect one, said Gwen Franzgrote, director of HME services for CHAP.
"Once they communicate to us that they've completed a self-study, that is their cue that a survey could occur at any time," she said.
A provider who's done his homework should be ready for a survey, said Sandra Canally, president of The Compliance Team.
"If we are giving them the tools and they are using the tools, there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to do it," said Canally. "There should be no surprises."