Time for re-accreditation? It can be intense

Thursday, August 25, 2011

WASHINGTON - The mad rush for HME providers to get accredited after Medicare began requiring it in 2009 is starting up again, says Bob Weir, an accreditation consultant and surveyor. Weir has been conducting surveys all over the country and took a break to give providers some survey advice. 

HME: What would you say to providers preparing to go through re-accreditation?

Weir: I think it's important for providers out there to realize that if they're asleep at the wheel, you can't put accreditation together in six months. The goal is to have them do better than they did the first time around. Their initial survey--the documentation submitted to them from their accrediting organization--is a roadmap for their new survey. Either deficiencies or recommendations--that's the first thing the surveyor is going to look at. 

HME: What's the difference between an initial survey and a re-survey?

Weir: During the initial survey, we spent a lot of time, as surveyors, trying to explain the standards. The second time around, we pretty much take it for granted that they really know what they're doing. And we don't just go back three months; we go back to day one. It's a different process. 

HME: What happens if the surveyor finds issues?

Weir: They have to fix it on site then we have to go back and do another survey. It could be a focused survey that goes back to look at those types of problems or we have to go back and survey them again. There is the possibility they will lose their accreditation. They might think if they were accredited before, they're automatically going to be accredited again. Actually, the second time around is more intense than the first time around.

HME: What should providers do if they haven't complied with a standard?

Weir: It's important to be right upfront with the surveyor. If we're looking for something and you haven't done it, just let us know. What happens is, when you try to hide things, that's when the can of worms opens up. It makes a lot more sense to have the provider say, "We replaced Joe, the new guy didn't know--we found it when we were getting ready for accreditation." The goal is for them to be compliant from that point on.