A Blog Post – In Memory of Darlene D’Altorio-Jones
Starting to write a blog post that would be a fitting memorial to Darlene’s contributions to the readers of the Mediware rehab blog is a daunting task. Over the past few weeks, I have started to write it but have been challenged, with one eye on plenitude and another on brevity, to summarize the lessons we learned from Darlene. After re-reading her blog posts and recalling the many personal discussions with her, I think there are several key lessons that we should remember, no matter what changes we may face in the regulatory environment. So, I take this task of summarizing those lessons with a degree of humility, knowing that there will be uncovered territory and unspoken lessons that individuals who have read Darlene’s blog posts or met her personally would add.
First, when in doubt about what is required to meet the latest regulation from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), go directly to the CMS site and read the regulation yourself. There are often discussions where someone will say, “The reg. states…” Subject experts are helpful, but nothing replaces using the primary source. Since false information abounds, it’s always wise to start with the primary source.
Second, documentation is key to protecting yourself from audits. While this almost goes without saying, auditors are looking for key information. Getting all of the healthcare team to understand the importance of proper documentation is an invaluable exercise that will save your revenue in the event of an audit.
Third, the proper use of data is directly tied to your ability to address the quality concerns of payers and various agencies. Having the data is one thing; using it is the second and often-lacking step. Compare your data with the various requirements and standards from quality reporting agencies. Be sure that the data is accurate and meets the expected benchmarks. If it does not, make a corrective plan to raise your outcomes to avoid potential loss of revenue or certification.
Finally, while state and federal governments and their corresponding requirements may, at first glance, appear intrusive and obstructionist, they can serve to protect patients and help us healthcare professionals grow and improve. We can look at government entities in one of two ways. We can choose to see them as opponents against which we are trying to wage battle, or we can see them as allies, helping us to deliver better care to our patients. In the end, it is more beneficial to see the agencies as allies rather than opponents.
In closing, I know many readers may find other lessons learned from Darlene that they wish to express. Please feel free to respond. We would love to hear your comments and questions.