Author: Mary Nicholas Date: 11/16/2011
More often than not, I am inspired by the people that I work with. Employees and Independent Contractors that are truly engaged in their work and the importance of their work, give me inspiration and energy to continuously work to improve their ability to do their jobs and tasks effectively. We are immersed in a technology world here at HQAA. We have a highly sophisticated, one-of-a-kind data system that has custom designed interfaces for staff, surveyors and customers. It’s a constantly improving, evolving, almost living entity that we all interact with daily. We have fast computers, complicated phones (with an HQAA app!), and capabilities that 10 years ago were mere ideas.
One day early last summer, I purchased a box of “Magnetic Poetry Kit – Office Version” and put up the 200+ business-related magnetic words on the staff refrigerator. I added a little sticky-note that simply said, “have fun”. Not highly sophisticated or technologically functional, but a step away from anything electronic and just patiently awaiting human interaction.
Since summer, I’ve often stopped and pondered the statements that have been made by staff. Then it dawned on me that I should share these anonymous thoughts, since so many are thoughtful and make real statements that pertain to who we are as a company. I found myself chuckling too at a few and was honestly surprised there weren’t more of the tongue-in-cheek variety – especially knowing the sense of humor that folks possess. Below you will find a few of the compilation of quotable quotes from the fridge. The darnedest things can be found in the darnedest places!
“Create Vision Utilize Opportunity”
“Client is our future”
“We have smart professional men and women”
“Maximize success by asking and sharing”
“Collaborative team goal through company mission”
And then the statements that made me chuckle:
“I like vacation”
“Break with hot strong coffee”
“Interactive change after nap”
And finally someone put together a statement that is made quite frequently, and made “famous” by our Assistant Director of Surveyors, “You CAN Do it!”
My original intent in putting up the magnets was to just create an option for team creativity. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve read and so thought that our “fridge-tweets” should be written down. I’m now going to rearrange all the magnets to see what happens when we get to start all over...
Executive Director – HQAA
It’s Time for Private Health Insurance to Quit Hiding Behind Accreditation
Author: Mary Nicholas Date: 9/15/2011
If healthcare is truly, 100% committed to the quality of care for the beneficiaries, patients,
caregivers and employers that pay for it, then insurance companies need to develop their preferred
provider contracts based upon the quality of the health care provider/supplier, not by whom they
are accredited with. To exclude suppliers based upon their accreditation credentials is like telling
a person they cannot join your association because they have a “T” in their name, or because they
drive a blue car.
There have been some very disappointed suppliers as of late who have contacted me due to their
facing a potential substantial loss of their business with a 3rd party insurance contract, all based
upon who they are accredited with. If one really thinks about this situation, suppliers, and potentially
great suppliers, are being excluded based upon a choice that was made and offered through a huge
government contract commonly known as Medicare. Talk about a rock and a hard place. Suppliers who
chose an accreditor at a time when tens of thousands of suppliers were mandated to achieve accreditation,
now find themselves on the short end because they didn’t choose the “correct” one in the eyes of the
insurance companies. Even accreditors that have been deemed qualified by CMS are being discriminated
To these private insurance companies I say, “quit hiding” behind the accreditation certificate and
look at each supplier for who they are, who they serve, what products they offer, and how efficiently
they offer service, equipment and delivery to their customers. I say to ask the suppliers to submit
their customer satisfaction surveys, their quality improvement reports, their compliant logs, their
billing accuracy, and so on. I say to conduct your own satisfaction surveys to ensure your patients
are satisfied with the suppliers who they have worked with. I would bet that you will find excellent,
dedicated, patient-focused suppliers that you might have excluded previously because they “drive a
blue car” or “have a ‘T’ in their name.” Let’s face it – accreditation and the standards that are
imposed are only as “alive” as the organization that breathes life into them. Sure, there are differences
in how each of the accreditors impose their standards and observe their implementation, but the bottom
line difference is the owner that maintains quality on a day-to-day basis.
It’s time insurance companies really truly look at who they are signing contracts with, and not
hide behind discriminatory decisions based on who they are accredited by. It’s time that they admit
that “choice by accreditor” is an exclusionary tactic that, frankly, is unfair and illogical. I know
I am hedging a bit close to discomfort when I say that “choice by accreditor” seems not so far away
from denying someone a membership because of their religious or educational affiliation. It’s a stretch,
I know. But I am mad. Mad on behalf of the thousands of customers/providers/suppliers that in good faith
made a choice that was 100% acceptable in the eyes of the public healthcare system, only to find out
that the same choice creates exclusion in the private healthcare sector. What sense does that make?
Does private healthcare do a better job? Does private healthcare guarantee higher quality? I think it
would be tough to prove.
What I do think is that all suppliers who have been denied contracts should revolt and dare the
insurance companies to look at their quality systems, patient satisfaction, billing efficiencies,
complaint logs, referral source satisfaction, and so on. Suppliers can prove that on their own merits,
they should be considered for contract opportunities. Dare the insurance companies to look past whose
name is in the “Accredited By” line, and to look inside the organization at its quality of service,
commitment and equipment.
And I dare the insurance companies who use accreditation as their sole determinant for approvals,
to develop criteria to ensure the suppliers are of the quality and distinction that is required, and
to quit using accreditation organizations as the bargaining chip. You don’t know what kind of quality
you are missing and, ultimately, your beneficiaries lose out. How can it be said that insurance
companies care about quality when potentially high-quality suppliers are being excluded? Quit hiding
behind accreditation certificates and demand proof of quality from your potential preferred providers.
Isn’t that the most logical and important?
Executive Director – HQAA
Organizational Change…not just a catch phrase
Author: Mary Nicholas Date: 8/15/2011
As I was pondering what my next Champion Chat article topic would be I received an email from one of the organizations that I belong to, the American Society on Quality (ASQ). This email was their “ASQ Healthcare Update” and the topic – Organizational Change. A paragraph in this email, describing an article from the Journal for Quality and Participation stated, “…the rewards for those organizations that manage their change efforts well are significant and included improved competitive standing, as well as more advantageous positioning for a better future”. How perfect. How timely and how applicable this descriptive statement is to our industry.
Could it be that businesses and industries other than ours are also concerned with how to stay competitive, reap rewards and set themselves up for a better future? We all know that the answer to that is yes, of course. So I clicked on the article and gave it a thorough read. The name of the article is “Organizational Change that Sticks”. As I read it, I could swear that the author, Mr. Michael Stanleigh, has been reading our industry journals, peeked in on industry training sessions, overheard conversations at association meetings and in general been a part of our industry – for this article seemed to speak to exactly what suppliers are facing every day. I found it so compelling that I outline the article below.
He begins by identifying “What Drives Change” and offers the bullet points below:
He then asks, “Why do Change Initiatives Fail?” and goes on to say that managers frequently fail to realize that adjustment to change takes time. The expectation is that employees move quickly through all the phases of adjusting to change. Failing to recognize that the change process is never uniform is a key factor. There is a point at which “change” either progresses or turns in to crisis. Leadership must recognize the difference and plan for progressing forward methodically and clearly.
- Mergers and acquisitions
- A decline in sales and/or market share
- Initiatives for restructuring/reorganizing
- Globalization / expansion / growth, and
- A sense of urgency
“What prevents Successful Organizational Change?” is the next question asked. There are specific approaches the author goes on to say, that impedes the change process. He identifies the following as getting in the way of positive steps forward:
Last, Mr. Stanleigh offers 10 tips to create organizational change that sticks, they are:
- Not engaging all employees
- Managing change only at the executive level
- Telling people “we have to change” (crisis mode)
- Sending staff to “change training” and expecting it to occur automatically
- Not honoring the past
- Not giving staff time to vent first and then change
There is so much changing around and within our industry. Have we all adapted to and adjusted our business thinking to the changes? If you are pondering, as I was, whether or not significant changes are needed in your organization in order to keep up, stay competitive and set yourself up for a stronger future, then I hope Mr. Stanleigh's article outline has stimulated your thinking in a direction that is right for you. A stronger industry is what we all seek.
- Accept that change is a process
- Move forward step by step
- Assess potential risks and generate motivation
- Form a powerful guiding coalition
- Create shared values for change
- Communicate the vision
- Empower others to act on the vision
- Plan for and create short-term wins
- Consolidate improvement and keep the momentum for change moving
- Institutionalize the new approaches
Here's to Change!
HQAA Renewal Process: Manage Your Process Effectively
Author: Mary Nicholas Date: May 19, 2011
Many conscientious suppliers have been asking me if we are “…going to be ready for next year?” Their thoughts are implying “We know 2009 was nuts. Are you able to do that again?” Our answer is always a resounding “Yes!”
There is a big difference for us between 2009 and 2012. We are working with a known group of our currently accredited suppliers and know all of their accreditation expiration dates. In 2009, every day from January to July was living in the unknown. We never knew the critical management issues, such as how many organizations would be signing on, how many would be working in their workrooms, how many would finish the workrooms and many other variables. We are analyzing, studying and collecting data on how we will best approach all of the expirations in 2012 and how we can best manage capacity and efficiency at the same time. Our work begins now.
You may not be aware that HQAA always notifies you when it is time for you to begin your renewal process. This is based on your accreditation expiration date so that you have plenty of time to accomplish all necessary work and have your survey well in advance of your expiration. The Renewal Notification Process is as follows if the supplier has not already renewed:
The general rule of thumb is that a supplier should finish their Workroom at least 4 months prior to their expiration date. For example, a supplier that is due to expire in February 2012 should be finished in their workroom early in November of this year. January expirations should be finished in October. And for any of you high-achievers, (who we are very proud and thankful for) who are due to renew in late 2012, getting into your workroom in the next few months and getting ahead of the game a little sure wouldn’t hurt!
- Eight (8) to nine (9) months prior to the expiration date, the supplier receives an e-mail notification that they should begin the process
- If the supplier has not yet begun, the supplier receives a courtesy letter via USPS seven (7) months prior to the expiration date
- Four (4) months prior to the expiration date, the supplier receives a certified letter advising that their accreditation is expiring
The renewal process begins on our home page, www.hqaa.org where you see the large picture button labeled “Renew”. Have your HQAA ID number handy and you’ll be on your way!
The actual Workroom process is very efficient. Accessing all of your current P&P items is a snap and your accreditation coach is ready to assist with any questions you may have. The last thing in the world you want to do is put yourself in a position where your work is hurried, pressured and incomplete due to signing up and renewing later than you should. Managing your renewal well in advance of your expiration date is something to be taken seriously. It is far more preferable to sit in the driver’s seat of your accreditation process than for the process to be controlling you. As you can see, those who are approaching renewal in the next 18 months will receive adequate notification from HQAA, but you don’t have to wait to hear from us. You can get started any day!
If you have any questions about your schedule or your process, please don’t hesitate to call the Quality Assistance Center at any time. We are here to ensure you are successful!
Author: Mary Nicholas Date: Nov. 11, 2010
As I ponder the 'end' of our home page as we have known it for the last 6 years, I take a step back and think about "change" in general. We hope you are as pleased with the new look, new navigation capabilities, new groups of information and accepting of this change. We (largely our two teams from Hellman and Forbin) have been intensely focused on this change for HQAA and all of our customers for the last several months. For us, the change has been a gradual build up and an evolution in the making. For you, we realize that this change is new. All of the same essential elements are still contained in our home site --- it’s basically the same pie, just cut a little differently. Please note the index at the bottom of every page, it is there to serve as a guide to locate specific information. The index is an added feature and a change we hope you find useful.
In the bigger picture of things, how do you deal with and manage change….as an individual, family member, employee, or as community resident? Are you an agent of change, a resistor of change, do you ignore changes or analyze changes? Just like birth, death and taxes, change is inevitable. And if one thinks deeply about it nothing is ever “the same” due to time marching on. Our company is changing and evolving, which I am sure everyone can relate to in your own setting. How individuals and groups react, act and manage change is what makes things exciting. Our industry has always been changing and lately the mood, while adamantly opposing negative changes, is appearing to embrace it more for the opportunities that can come about with change.
Change can equate to opportunities. Opportunities can stimulate creativity. Creativity can kindle synergy. Synergy can inspire new ideas. New ideas can initiate change. Welcome to our new home page!
Keep Quality Continuous!