4 Considerations for achieving deficiency-free survey results

January 16, 2023
Categories: Home health, Hospice, Palliative care
Reading Time: 2 minutes

By: Kathleen Courson, RN, BSN, Clinical Product Manager, MatrixCare

Achieving a deficiency-free survey means different things to different agencies, depending on what licensures, certifications, and accreditations they have. But ultimately, it means that during an inspection, surveyors found zero deficiencies in care services, the environment, or operations. For the agency being surveyed, this result doesn’t mean they get a free pass. It doesn’t mean they can take a deep breath and let things go for a while. It means they are among the elite choices for caregivers and patients.

A deficiency-free survey result is a marketing goldmine for home health agencies, that can use it to their advantage to market their business, educate consumers, and entice staff. Top talent can expect to work at the top of their licenses, patients can expect the highest level of care, and caregivers can rest assured their loved ones are in expert hands.

Simply put, it’s not just great policies and following proper regulations that lead to a deficiency-free survey. It takes everyone involved to ensure patient care is the focus — and that gives everyone peace of mind. Here, we discuss four things that agencies must consider before achieving zero deficiency.

Understand the regulations. Home health and hospice are two of the most regulated branches of healthcare. Between a plethora of state and federal regulations — and accreditation agencies — these providers have a long list of standards that must be met. And once these regulations are understood, it’s not just up to the C-suite to prepare for the survey. All staff must be educated on what needs to be done to stay compliant. Without this knowledge, agencies cannot achieve positive survey outcomes.

Understand your why. If you just throw a policy and procedure handbook at staff, they’re not likely to follow the guidelines for compliance. But if you have conversations about why you do something a certain way, how to put it into action, and what the results will be, they will be more likely to live that preparation in their daily tasks.

Understand the four survey components. Included in a survey will be a combination of four things — a review of medical records, agency operations, policies and procedures, and in-home visits with staff. These surveys could happen at any moment, so having a thorough understanding of what’s expected, and making an ongoing process out of educating staff on these components, can keep your agency prepared for that impending moment the surveyor walks in.

Understand the importance of utilizing resources. What are the top deficiencies that other agencies are receiving and what deficiencies have you received in the past? Understanding the possible shortcomings — and correcting them — will help you stay prepared for potential negative survey outcomes.

When it comes to obtaining a deficiency-free survey, knowledge is your best friend. Educating your staff should be constant. Always be aware of new regulatory guidance and offer ongoing webinars and learning opportunities to uphold your agency’s culture and mission to drive a deficiency-free survey.

Schedule a demo with MatrixCare to learn how the right technology partner can help documentation be more timely, more thorough, and more complete — ultimately leading to the possibility of zero deficiency.


Kathleen Courson
Kathleen Courson

Kathleen Courson, RN, BSN (Katie) has been a registered nurse for 24 years with 18 of that spent in home health and hospice. She has worked in all realms of the industry, from field nurse to administration, including being involved in a start-up of an independent Medicare Certified Home Health agency in her rural community. Katie is the Clinical Product Manager for the Home Health and Hospice Division of MatrixCare. She was previously on the MatrixCare Professional Services team as a Clinical Implementation Consultant. Prior to joining the MatrixCare Team, she was an active member of NAHC and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, participating in the education committees for both organizations. She has held certifications in both OASIS and ICD-10 and provided remote coding/OASIS review services and instructions. Katie resides in rural NWPA with her husband of 24 year and they have 3 young adult daughters.


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