“Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right” --Oprah Winfrey
January 1 is an arbitrary date of course, but the start of a new year has become a good time to change batteries in our smoke alarms, start a diet or exercise program, review our financial situation and readjust retirement account holdings, and resolve to do things we’ve been putting off. That holds true in our personal lives and professional lives as well and can certainly hold true in our medical equipment companies!
Kick off the new year with some financial reviews. Adjust your budget and financial projections according to the past year’s performance. Look at loans and lines of credit and make sure the terms still make sense. It may be a good time to review insurance and accounting services to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
Corporate paperwork often comes with requirements for the documentation of meetings. The beginning of the year is a good time to make sure that paperwork is being kept up with. In fact, it is a good time to actually hold these meetings. Gather partners and leadership—boards if your organization is structured that way—and look at overall operational issues in the past so that you can effectively plan for the future. Now is a good time to consider issues such as adding (or discontinuing) services or equipment categories, expanding geographically, and the careful consideration of staffing needs.
Continuing education and in-service programs should be ongoing processes at your organization. Trying to “cram in” all the required topics into a short time period is not a good idea. The beginning of the year however, is a good time to review the program. Make sure you are covering all the topics that your accrediting body requires. Also, be sure to consider any topics that are required for state licensing bodies. Lastly, take some time to reflect on topics that might be useful to your organization. Just because it isn’t required doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful or even necessary for staff development and competency. Set the annual calendar and stick to it throughout the year.
Speaking of staff competency, how do you schedule competency assessments? Many organizations do this annual task on an anniversary date, but some do them all at the same time of the year. If that’s the case, consider scheduling them in early January. Its good peace of mind to go into the year knowing you’ve already done and documented these assessments.
Be sure to go through the human resource record and check expirations dates on driver’s licenses. You should always have a current driver’s license for anyone within your organization who drives. Even if they are using a personal vehicle, it is a good idea to make sure their license is current. Verify any other information in the personnel file that expires. Some states have background check requirements that need to be done from time to time. Make sure you are following your policy and make sure your policy meets or exceeds state licensure law.
The warehouse and showroom areas are places where you work every day. Chances are you walk through these areas many times throughout the workday. It is still a good idea to conduct an occasional walkthrough with an eye to compliance. Go with a written checklist on a clipboard and look for clean/dirty segregation, signage placement, and general organization and housekeeping. Be sure to check your posted exit strategies (those neat little “you are here” maps of the location that help guide you out in a disaster), first aid kits, eye wash kits, and fire extinguishers. Make sure they are in place and make sure nothing in the first aid kits or eye wash stations have expired.
Next, turn your attention to the patient records. Audit billing and clinical files utilizing customized checklist forms geared toward your individual organization’s needs and policies. Audit a wide range of files including samples from each equipment category and each branch (if you have multiple branches). In addition to this “ring in the new year” audit, set an audit protocol for the year. Establish some reasonable number of files that you hope to audit on a monthly basis and assign staff to take responsibility.
Share the results at an “all employee” meeting. Clear and open communication are hallmark ideals. Share the results of your reviews, audits, and discussions with staff and enlist their help meeting organization-wide goals. Resolve as a company to improve customer service, efficiency, and productivity. Resolve to help each other with shared goals and each other’s goals, to pitch in when other departments or individuals need help, and to support the overall mission. Remember the simplest resolutions: things like having a kind word for each other, smiling more, and coming to work happy can all have an impact on the quality of life within your organization. And happiness within your organization translates to better employee satisfaction, higher levels of commitment, and improved customer service—all of which typically translates to an improved bottom line.
Happy New Year and best of luck in 2018!