BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (July 14, 2020)--This summer, National Seating & Mobility (NSM), one of the country’s largest providers of customized mobility and accessibility solutions and equipment maintenance, announced its new “Serving Safely” initiative to protect clients’ and employees’ health and safety. The commitment includes adding operational guidance into the company’s existing protocols, mandatory staff training, and creating an operational checklist of safety practices, alternative service options and new technology. HomeCare asked NSM CEO Bill Mixon about the plan and about what it’s like to provide complex rehab technology and other devices during a public health emergency.
HomeCare: NSM has deployed actions to protect clients and staff during the pandemic. Will the changes endure after the public health emergency ends?
Mixon: Health and safety have always been a priority for NSM. Our Serving Safely commitment is an enhancement of ongoing business practices prioritizing the health and safety of our clients, employees and referral sources. NSM is proud to be the only national mobility solutions provider accredited by the Joint Commission. We choose to follow the rigorous standards associated with this accreditation year after year because of the critical importance of health and safety to the work we do. Our Serving Safely commitment has only elevated the priority by adding some additional protocols to further ensure our clients continue to feel safe working with NSM.
HomeCare: Are there special vulnerabilities among your clientele you were concerned about, or special needs they may have or issues with transportation, employment and access?
Mixon: We work daily to support the mobility and accessibility needs, from simple to complex, for all our clients. That said, the COVID-19 pandemic does uniquely impact our clients, many of whom are at high risk due to existing health conditions. Those living with significant health conditions and mobility challenges are not only vulnerable to the virus, but also other potential negative health outcomes without access to mobility and accessibility services and equipment. Helping these individuals remain mobile is always critically important. We have taken necessary measures to mitigate exposure risk while ensuring the continuity of the services our clients need. Additionally, access to alternative service options allows them to stay home.
HomeCare: Did you hear from clients that they were concerned about their own safety during the pandemic?
Mixon: Listening and responding to our clients has always been an important part of our commitment to service excellence. This has been even more important as we navigate the evolving circumstances of the pandemic, but we are up for the challenge and will do what is needed to provide a continuum of care for our clients. We have heard from concerned clients and have worked alongside them to find new ways to meet their needs while prioritizing safety. Alternative service delivery options such as telehealth were incorporated to allow our assistive technology professionals and technicians to serve clients safely.
HomeCare: What services are you able to provide remotely, in terms of evaluations and repairs or maintenance?
Mixon: NSM has incorporated a variety of alternate delivery and evaluation methods such as no contact and limited contact evaluation and curbside delivery options allowing the continuity of safe care for our clients. Depending on the complexity and specifics of the situation, we can utilize HIPAA-approved compliant telehealth options to perform many new equipment and repair evaluations remotely. Once equipment is delivered to the nearest branch, client home or healthcare facility, we can set up a time to remotely review safety and functional training. so that we can use our eye and ears to best assess situations. With remote evaluation, we can review and sometimes resolve service requests without ever having an in-person evaluation. A connected chair and virtual apps open up a wide range of remote service options.
HomeCare: Do the regulatory changes in response to the pandemic make providing these services easier? Are there other changes you would like to see happen?
Mixon: The regulatory changes introduced during the pandemic have allowed for operational solutions that streamline our processes to better serve our clients. With a balanced perspective on high quality care, we believe these newer operational solutions create the opportunity for more efficient service for our clients. Moving forward, regulatory changes around the reimbursement for telehealth, ATP in-person requirements for home assessments, remote evaluations and contactless signature completion among other changes currently in place should be considered beyond the pandemic.
HomeCare: Do you think that COVID-19 has caused a shift in the way the industry will do business in the future?
Mixon: The “genie is out of the bottle” in terms of the healthcare industry adopting change around telehealth and other regulatory changes brought on during the pandemic. The pandemic has given us opportunities to think outside the box and the need to ensure continuity of service for our clients has created innovative solutions that our clients like and that provide the same if not better level of service to our clients. We are cautiously optimistic that the acceptance of these innovative ways of doing business will not only continue to be accepted post-pandemic, but may also open the door to additional advancements to benefit those we serve.