Invasion of the accreditors

Friday, August 31, 2007

This year kicked off the busiest period ever in HME accreditation despite lingering questions about the national initiative for Medicare. The fact remains, however, that mandatory accreditation is a reality and providers must prepare for their surveys now.
Accreditation expert Wayne Link, former surveyor for the Accreditation Commission for Home Care (ACHC) and president of the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Link Consulting Group, talked about the issue recently with HME News.
HME News: On a scale of one to 10, how are proviers doing when it comes to accreditation?
Wayne Link: The score can range anywhere from two to eight, depending on their approach to accreditation and where they are in the process. Those who want to become accredited for the right reasons--better patient care and outcomes--obviously score higher. Those who are hurrying through it--they have to get a lower mark.
HME: Where do you think providers are most deficient?
Link: One of their biggest challenges is documentation. They don't document what they do very well. Whether it's continuing education programs, visiting the client or providing services, if it isn't documented, it didn't happen. What goes on in the client's home needs to be reflected with a record. As surveyors, we're looking for a plan of service and an outcome goal. Providers typically fall short on this.
HME: What are the most common misperceptions about accreditation in the provider community?
Link: To this day, I think some still feel like accreditation will go away, which it definitely won't. This isn't a witchhunt--it's an educational growing experience that will definitely improve the company's business. All providers are bound to get something out of it.
HME: What advice would you give providers?
Link: Remember that the accreditors will look at four different areas when they survey: compliance with agency standards; compliance with all local, state and federal laws; compliance with the manufacturer's recommendations for preventative maintenance and service of their equipment; and adherence to industry best practices, which is the bedside manner of the industry. You need to provide at least six months of data for the surveyor; you can't just decide you're ready and call the surveyors for an inspection.
HME: What trait do successful providers share when it comes to accreditation?
Link: They have someone in-house who can take charge of the process. It needs to be a team effort, but there must be someone in charge who can keep a finger on the timeline.