By Jeanine Gleba, UOAA Advocacy Manager
The overall goal of the UOAA Patient Bill of Rights (PBOR) initiative is to ensure high quality of care for people who had or will have ostomy or continent diversion surgery. To accomplish this it’s important that patients and families actively participate in patient health care.
According to CMS an integral part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Quality Strategy is the CMS Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) Program. It is one of the largest federal programs dedicated to improving health quality at the community level.
Under the QIO program there are two Beneficiary and Family Centered Care-QIOs (BFCC-QIOs) who help Medicare beneficiaries and their families exercise their right to high-quality healthcare. The two BFCC-QIOs are KEPRO and Livanta and they serve all fifty states. BFCC-QIO services are free-of-charge to Medicare beneficiaries.
Depending on where you live (Locate your BFCC-QIO) they are available to help Medicare beneficiaries and their families or caregivers with questions or concerns such as:
• Am I ready to be discharged from the hospital?
• Should I be receiving needed skilled services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, from a home health agency, skilled nursing facility, or comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facility? (Care from a certified ostomy nurse is a skilled service.)
• I’m concerned about the quality of care I received from my hospital, doctor, nurse or others.
Examples of quality of care concerns that pertain to our PBOR include but are not limited to:
• Experiencing a change in condition that was not treated (such as skin infection around stoma)
• Receiving inadequate discharge instructions (such as inadequate individual instruction in ostomy care, including the demonstration of emptying and changing pouch or no instruction on how to order ostomy supplies when you leave the hospital)
*Why should Medicare Beneficiaries contact their BFCC-QIO with concerns?
First, BFCC-QIOs can help when you have a concern about the quality of the medical care you are receiving from a healthcare facility (e.g. hospital, nursing home, or home health agency) or professional. You can also file a formal Medicare complaint through your BFCC-QIO.
Furthermore, according to CMS, when Medicare beneficiaries share their concerns with their BFCC-QIO, they help identify how the health care system can better meet the needs of other patients. Beneficiary experiences, both good and bad, give the QIO Program the perspective to identify opportunities for improvement, develop solutions that address the real needs of patients, and inspire action by health professionals. This is what we are working towards achieving with our PBOR initiative. This is a resource to help the UOAA community make this happen.
Last, Medicare beneficiaries have the right to file an appeal through their BFCC-QIO, if they disagree with a health care provider’s decision to discharge them from the hospital or discontinue services, or when they have a concern about the quality of the medical care they received from a health care professional or facility.
*When and who should Medicare Beneficiaries contact?
A Medicare beneficiary can call 1-800-MEDICARE or your Local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) if he or she:
• Has general questions about Medicare coverage;
• Needs clarification on how to enroll in Medicare;
• Wishes to discuss billing issues.
A beneficiary can contact their BFCC-QIO if he or she:
• Needs to discuss the quality of care received;
• Wants to file a formal quality of care complaint; or
• Needs help to understand his or her Medicare rights.
While BFCC-QIOs are the primary point of contact for Medicare beneficiaries and their families, when necessary, quality of care complaints can also still be made by calling 1-800-MEDICARE.
For those interested in learning more about what to do if you have a concern about the care you received while on Medicare, please refer to this FAQs page produced by CMS.
Be involved in your healthcare and if you are a Medicare beneficiary, take advantage of this resource to self-advocate and ensure a better outcome for yourself.