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Accreditation audits are unavoidable in healthcare, but HME owners don’t have to fear them. In fact, with the right solution and processes in place, you’ll no longer have to sweat whether you have the compliance you need to maintain accreditation.

Read excerpts from the interview with Brightree expert Aimee Swope, originally reported in HomeCare Magazine, for best practices and tips you’ll want to have on your side.

Q: Which part of the delivery process creates the most stress before an audit, and how can that stress be eliminated?

Swope: The main reason for stress is the potential of missing delivery documentation. Paper forms can easily get lost, left in the truck or even forgotten at the office. A system of checks and balances for the technician is needed. Once a delivery request is entered in the system, the software can pull the forms needed for each piece of equipment in the order. Then, at delivery, it makes sure the technician completes each form before moving to the next form, ensuring all the required information is captured. When the software runs through a digital checklist, it eliminates the potential for a technician to miss a form, requiring a repeat visit to the patient’s home for paperwork, which is lost productivity time for the technician.

Q: What are other benefits of an electronic system?

Swope: Another critical component for HME companies to track are the serial and lot numbers for every single piece of equipment. If an item is recalled, organizations need to be able to quickly view which patients have that specific item so it can easily be replaced. Bar codes can be scanned at the time of delivery for a clear record of what items are with each patient. Additionally, many auditors will want to test an organization’s patient records system by searching via order identification numbers. By electronically capturing signatures and serial numbers associated with an order in the field, the software will automatically sync delivery information with the back-office system used to maintain customer orders and patient records. This eliminates the potential error of an employee typing incorrect information into the system. It also ensures all patient paperwork for each of the orders is grouped so the auditor can easily follow the electronic paper trail.

Q: What else do auditors look at in the delivery process?

Swope: Safety is a top concern for auditors, and therefore the pre-trip inspections are something carefully looked at as well. A company can easily get fined on an audit for failing to report daily on safety checks. Whether capturing the checks on paper or electronically, it’s critical to ensure all vehicles are checked for mechanical functionality, cleanliness and first-aid kits with unexpired items, and that all equipment is stored safely in the vehicles in the event of an accident. The great thing about using an electronic delivery logistics system is that the pre-trip inspection and odometer reading can be added as a mandatory first step before the technician begins the day’s route. By guaranteeing it’s done every day, HME owners can have peace of mind knowing they’re ready for an audit.

Q: Anything else?

Swope: Record retention is another main point auditors look for during their visits. With an electronic record system, companies can worry less about losing a patient file or a trail of paperwork in a file cabinet. Having a system that automatically syncs between delivery software to the back-office management system ensures there are no forms, signatures or information missing on any records. In fact, confirming a 100% elimination of lost delivery and pickup or exchange tickets can bring peace of mind in knowing nothing is missing when it is time for an audit. And as we know, without proof of delivery, the company cannot bill insurance and get paid for the service, which leads to a loss of revenue. So, the benefits of using an electronic system are significant beyond accreditation, as the system ensures the business continues to bring in revenue.