Mary Ellen Conway: Make accreditation a daily occurence

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Since last year, accreditation became the name of the game for anyone doing business with Medicare. The change didn't sneak up on the industry, but a majority of HME providers waited until the last minute to get accredited, says Mary Ellen Conway, president of Capital Healthcare Group. She says there are processes a company can put into place that make accreditation less of a burden, and she'll delve into those during her Medtrade session, "Maintaining Your Accreditation in 2010 and Beyond."

HME News: Do HME providers tend to push accreditation to the back of their minds from the time they're first surveyed and then re-surveyed several years later?

Mary Ellen Conway: Yes--but so do most other organizations. It is absolutely human nature to coast along until things start to come back for renewal. But it makes  that much more work.

hme: What should providers be doing on a daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly basis to maintain accreditation and comply with requirements?

Conway: The processes that have been adapted to become accredited--such as the materials they provide to their patients--should be a daily occurrence. A monthly requirement should be that when they hire personnel, they hire them with a complete packet of information. Their performance improvement requirements should be quarterly. Annually, they should make sure their data is together; make sure they're looking for ways to improve.

hme: What types of activities can affect an HME provider's accreditation status?

Conway: Any adverse events from Medicare for billing inappropriately or fraud that's been uncovered. Having a complaint that resulted in an unannounced visit that uncovered an awful lot of problems.

hme: What types of changes have you seen in how providers run their business since accreditation became a Medicare requirement in 2009?

Conway: Providers describe that they're running their businesses better. They're more administratively efficient, their customers are more informed, they're gaining feedback from them on satisfaction, they're measuring outcomes. 

hme: Have you seen more HME providers switching accreditors since the requirement went into effect, and if so, why?

Conway: I saw a lot of companies move within the past three years. In a free market scenario, there recently became a lot of quality choices available. Many providers who had been accredited by organizations that had been around in the '80s moved to newer accreditors who were less burdensome and more responsive to customers.