Busy cycle year for accreditation

Friday, September 25, 2015

Since HME providers need to get re-surveyed every three years to keep their accreditation status current, 2015 was already destined to be a busy year for Bob Weir.

Add in procrastination on the part of HME providers, and it has been even busier than he thought.

“We’ve had a lot of people wait until the 11th hour,” said Weir, an accreditation consultant and surveyor. “Before, we’d get requests to get surveyed two or three months in advance; now we’re getting them three or four weeks in advance.”

The three-year cycle for re-surveys kicked off in 2009, when Medicare first made accreditation mandatory for HME providers.

The last-minute rush has made scheduling re-surveys before accreditation certificates expire problematic.

“Sometimes I’m starting the survey on their expiration date,” he said.

There used to be a grace period for renewing accreditation, but not so much anymore, because so many things, like competitive bidding contracts, hinge on it, says Mary Nicholas, president and CEO of HQAA.

“Providers used to have a foot of rope, now they have six inches,” she said. “We’ve had inquiries the day after a certificate expires.”

The rush is a good problem to have in one way, Weir says.

“After the third time around, it’s so much more a part of their day-to-day operations,” he said. “There’s no really big getting ready for it.”