Surveys: Review, prioritize, understand

Friday, October 31, 2008

Q. What advice do you have for an HME company going through its first accreditation survey?

A. The best advice that I can recommend to providers going through accreditation is that they allow themselves enough time to understand and complete the process. When providers fail their surveys and have been declined accreditation, they usually admit that they don’t fully understand all of the standards and find it very frustrating to implement policies and procedures. When providers first review the accreditation standards, they may look like a foreign language or resemble a phone book with a lot of verbiage that may not apply to their organization.

The first thing to do is to review all standards and confirm that they apply to your company. If you are not providing clinical respiratory services or you identify other services that are not provided, remove them from your policy and procedure manual. If you are writing your own manual, remove these categories from your outline. This will greatly consolidate the framework of your accreditation preparation.

The next step is to prioritize what steps will take the most time and begin working on them. It will take more time to develop a disaster plan and patient prioritization list than it will take to inspect a fire extinguisher. So work on the disaster plan first; perform a mock disaster drill with your associates and work out all of the bugs.

Then, if you come upon a standard that you do not fully understand, contact your accreditation organization and see if it has a “coach” that can walk you through that particular standard. You can also network with other providers, attend a seminar given at regional and national HME trade shows or work with a consultant. Make sure that you have a good mental image of the standard and its intent, as well as what should be the final outcome when your policy is implemented.

Industry consultant Bob Weir is an accreditation surveyor and president of Weir & Associates. Reach