Accreditation: Now is the Time

Waiting until the last minute to become accredited is a major no-no.

With the accreditation deadline being right around the corner, September 2009 to be exact, there are things that providers should be doing right now to get their houses in order. But if you haven’t begun to get the ball rolling already, the first thing you should do is probably seek a qualified consultant.

“I would say to customers find a narrowly focused firm that specializes in durable medical equipment accreditation — not home health, not hospice because those are completely different animals,” says Ted L. Jones, president and owner of The Intelligent Business Network Inc., a health care consulting firm.
It’s important to have a consultant that will have all the proper tools, documentation and that will come into your business to assist with set-up, says Jones.

Folks who wait until the last minute are going to be in trouble. Jones says at least 10 percent of his customers had gone through the survey on their own and failed. After coming in and explaining the process, it then made sense to the customers.

“And it’s like why didn’t you call before,” he quizzes them. “People are kind of in denial. You can’t be your own doctor. If your heart is hurting, go see a cardiologist.”

Going at it alone, solely on the phone or online is an accident waiting to happen because some thing is going to be missed. It’s going to take longer to get it done, and providers will more than likely have a harder time on the survey if they don’t have the hands-on assistance.

“We go in and lay out the whole program to them, we show them all the logs and all of the documentation that they need to use,” he says. “The only thing that they need to do is accept it. Once they can mentally accept it, they have to properly manage it.”

For those providers who think they’ll be able to slip through the cracks without being accredited, they should think again. If you’re not accredited by September of 2009, CMS will pull your number and you’ll be out of business. If providers want to comply with CMS’s deadline of being accredited by September, they don’t have time to waste.

“If they want to be in business in 2009 and 2010 then they have to take this accreditation very seriously,” he says. “If you want to rush it through at the last minute, you may pass your survey but it’s all going to fall apart the day you get your certification because everybody’s going to revert back to old processes, and then when your tri-annual comes up you’re not going to have the data to support reaccreditation.”

Unfortunately, Jones believes there are thousands of providers out there who have not even begun to seek accreditation status. Of course consultants will be bombarded with trying to get hundreds of providers accredited at once, but the ones who will truly suffer are the patients.

“If these small guys go away, then the quality of care is just gone,” he says of small providers who will be forced out of the industry if they don’t seek accreditation status.

The deadline for beginning the accreditation process was yesterday, Jones said stressing the urgency of getting a jump on it now.

“So again, my advice is to start immediately, don’t hesitate and find a credible company that’s going to spend time with you in your location,” he says.

The accreditation company that you choose should be one that’s been and will be around for the long haul, Jones advised. It’s also important to have someone who will keep you up to speed on changes and make sure you’re paying attention and staying compliant.

This article originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of HME Business.

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