Readying Your Business for Future Challenges
Start with the old Scouting motto, ‘Be Prepared.’ It applies to all facets of life and business — and it is most applicable in healthcare.
- By Sandra Canally
- Oct 20, 2022
The secret to success lies in knowing what preparations need to be made to deal with the unexpected, such as inflation, a surprise audit, an accreditor’s unannounced site visit, or what is becoming more commonplace, a newly emerging infectious disease.
As the owner or manager of a DMEPOS business, what likely matters most to you is the well-being of your employees and patients. However, before you protect those you serve, you need to protect your business.
Four Core Business Considerations
First, perform a risk assessment according to the type of services you offer, your physical environment, as well as how and where your services are delivered (e.g., retail brick and motor, in-home setups, etc.).
Second, protect your business with proper documentation. This will keep you ready for an unannounced visit from your accrediting organization or an impromptu audit. Examples are as follows:
- Official documentation for your company as it relates to type of business and ownership, your leadership team, person charged with day-to-day management and an organizational chart.
- Marketing materials must cover the scope of services and adherence to all federal regulations and guidelines.
- Your policy and procedure manual should be up to date, reviewed and the review annually documented. Billing/LCD requirements and claims monitoring is kept up to date and evaluated quarterly.
Third, employee training is key to your success and preparedness.
Fourth, having a quality improvement plan is vital. If you don’t know where you are today from an operational standpoint, your chances of acting fast and thoughtfully in times of crisis will be compromised.
Every DMEPOS provider needs to have a written Quality Improvement Plan which is developed and implemented by key personnel of the organization representing management, the warehouse and service delivery. Your QI plan should include the following:
- Plan for new products/services if appropriate.
- Goals for improving patient outcomes (E.g., patient satisfaction and equipment failure as appropriate).
- Operational areas identified in need of improvement.
- Monitoring of HR, including staff development and training.
- Patient satisfaction and dissatisfaction.
Considerations Related to a PHE
The Covid-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) remains a very real consideration in healthcare, and it has provided some key lessons. For market changes caused by a PHE, the following actions must be taken:
- Do you have sufficient equipment to serve your patients?
- Communication with manufacturers is key. You need to know what is happening on their end of the supply chain.
- Will you need to switch manufacturers because of need?
- Routine equipment maintenance protects patients and staff.
- Review your infection control/prevention policies.
- Review and update your emergency preparedness policies.
Consider how you should protect your employees:
- Perform training of all staff on all of the above.
- Identify possible work-related exposure and health risks to your employees. OSHA has more information on how to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, monkeypox, TB and any other infectious diseases.
- Review human resources policies to make sure that policies and practices are consistent with public health recommendations and are consistent with existing state and federal workplace laws.
- Identify essential business functions, jobs or roles, and critical elements within your supply chains required to maintain operations.
- Plan for how your business will operate if there is increasing absenteeism or your supply chains are interrupted.
- Altering business operations (possibly changing operations in affected areas), and transferring business knowledge to key employees.
- Work closely with your local health officials.
- Minimize exposure between employees and between employees and the public. (Calls for social distancing from public health officials.)
- Outline a process to communicate with employees and partners on your disease response plans and the latest disease information.
- Alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol and other common EPA-registered household disinfectants.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
Protect your patients through proper equipment management, and strive to improve communications with patients during Intake, pre-delivery, and post-delivery:
- Bag and tag equipment for delivery as well as pick-up.
- Ensure you use disinfectant registered by the EPA.
- Follow manufacturer guidelines on cleaning, storing, handling, maintenance, repairs and proper setup, use and tracking of equipment.
- Perform screening prior to delivery.
- Use good hand hygiene during delivery.
- Use PPE (Gloves) and disinfectant.
- Use a mask if entering a patient’s home and approaching patients.
- Bag and tag equipment for delivery as well as pick-up.
- Utilize telehealth measures in place of delivery if appropriate.
- Assess how you can minimize your number of deliveries.
- Survey patients’ satisfaction with service and use of products.
Moving your business forward in these times requires adapting to seemingly constantly changing circumstances. Stay prepared, stay vigilant, take control where you can, and use common sense.
Sandra C. Canally, RN is the founder and CEO of accrediting organization The Compliance Team Inc., which was approved by CMS in 2006 to accredit all types of DMEPOS businesses. For more information, email scanally@TheComplianceTeam.org, or visit TheComplianceTeam.org.