Require accreditation? No Way!

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Although accreditation doesn’t come
cheap, the benefits realized through more efficient operation boost business and, partly, off-set those start-up costs.

Since our company became accredited by JCAHO in 1992, we’ve become more patient oriented. Our human resources (HR) department documents employee training and qualifications. Our patient file consistently improves. We comply better with government regulatory agencies and have a policy in place that enforces compliance with industry standards. Because we’re accredited, we have a better reputation and are able to secure more contracts with agencies that prefer to conduct business with accredited companies.

Before 1992, we maintained very little documentation on employee training; our HR files were poorly kept and our equipment was not tracked properly. We had very few written policies and procedures.

Today, our employees receive continuous training and education. Our equipment is properly sanitized and inspected. We even have a specific cleaning formula.

The upshot here? Our business has grown by 225% over the last six to seven years, and a portion of that is a consequence of our accreditation status.

If Medicare required accreditation, would it eliminate certain types of fraud?

It could. As our service manager Rick Knipe says, “Graudulent organizations will find a way to be fraudulent, accredited or not.” Fraud will never be totally eliminated. Nevertheless, working with a set of accrediting standards makes you and your employees accountable and responsible. This could offset fraudulent temptations.

The cost of becoming accredited is not cheap. For us, it represented about 1%-1.5% of revenues. Our director of patient services, Richard Mohney, says the initial cost of accreditation may be prohibitive for smaller organizations; to bring an organization up to standards could be three to four times the cost of the survey itself. However, that costs is a reflection of how efficiently you run your operation. After you’re up to speed, those go down.

At the very least, Medicare should establish standards for HME suppliers. The accreditation standards that currently exist would be a good place to start. Patients deserve the very best in quality service and care, and they should receive that from highly trained personnel from qualified companies.

- Jimmy Roddy is vice president, sales and sdministration at Southeastren Home Oxygen Service, Inc.
Read counterpoint