Companies test ISO 9000 for HMEs
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Accreditation Commission for Health Care sees ISO 9000 in HME providers' future and is beta-testing a product with a Mississippi HME company right now.
ISO 9000 is a process management auditing standard that, in the case of an HME supplier, would pick up where an accreditation survey leaves off, according to ACHC President Tom Cesar. Where surveyors scrutinize a company's clinical practices, ISO 9000 auditors focus on business efficiencies within a given company.
"ISO is superior to accreditation in the way it helps companies," said Cesar. "You become more efficient in how you handle connectivity between departments, for example."
Going through ISO 9000 certification will add a layer of cost to the HME supplier's balance sheet, but Cesar believes the savings will add a fatter layer to the bottom line.
"There have been university studies on ISO that prove that an ISO certified manufacturer's profitability increases 8-10%," he said. "So it not only pays for itself, but it brings in more money."
ISO 9000 is especially prevalent among manufacturers. Nearly 700,000 companies worldwide have completed the certification, according to Cesar.
But he said there's little traction for ISO 9000 in the healthcare industry. Hospitals, ironically enough, are notorious breeding grounds for mistakes. Nearly 200,000 people die in American hospitals each year from potentially preventable medical errors, according to a study released last year by HealthGrades, the healthcare quality company. That's twice as many deaths per year as researchers found in the last major study five years ago.
"It's more dangerous to go to a hospital than it is to go to Baghdad," said Cesar.
Nevertheless, the medical community has been slow to seize process management as a way to mitigate preventable errors.
"If we can demonstrate that this will work in home care, it will work in the hospital or anywhere else," said Cesar.
The HME test company is Southern Pharmaceutical Corporation in Columbus, MS.