Have a game plan
A. HME managers are not sitting around waiting for the surveyor to arrive. If those key people aren't at the office, the next-in-charge needs to know where information is kept and what to do while everyone juggles their plans and hustles back to the office.
Develop a "path through the maze" guide that identifies where the following documents can be found:
performance improvement reports and supporting data
an organization chart with names
incident reports (also known as "adverse events")
complaint reports (and follow-up letters)
your policy and procedure manual
personnel files: where they are located and who has access to them
information about your last emergency drill or actual emergency
equipment cleaning and maintenance records
your key contact person who can assist surveyors in planning patient home visit selection
Upon the surveyor's arrival, there is a short 15-minute opening conference, with a review of the surveyor's agenda and requests, and then immediately moving on to identify ideal candidates for the home visit or file audits. The surveyors will need workspace designated as their "headquarters" for the duration of the survey. A desk or table, telephone, and access to an electrical outlet are desirable; it would benefit you if this was located away from the mainstream business areas.
Home visits generally take about two hours, and then the afternoon is spent onsite at the business, reviewing documentation and interviewing staff. If your company has a retail component, the surveyor may tag along when a customer walks in the door (with customer permission) and observe as they interact with your store person.
Advance planning will help decrease some of the anxiety associated with the unexpected arrival of your surveyor.
Vianna Zimbel is president of Vianna Zimbel Consulting. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-657-0530.