Seven Ways to Simplify Your Accreditation Process
Take the headache out of your assessment.
- A better way than binders.
- How to get started.
If you want to be successful in your field, earning accreditation may be an important step to get there.
First of all, being accredited can add credibility to your organization. It ultimately ensures you and your employees are competent with necessary skill sets. It can also prepare you for optimal compliance to industry standards, policies, and procedures.
Accrediting agencies, according to the American Correctional Association, “review and evaluate compliance with standards.” Each accrediting body develops its own standards, which ultimately serve as “policies and procedures necessary for the operation of … programs.”
There are a number of accrediting bodies in nearly every area you can think of. They range from healthcare and education to law enforcement and governmental agencies.
For higher education alone, there are regional and national accreditors, in addition to dozens of opportunities for specific programmatic accreditation.
No matter what field you work in, accreditation enables you to grow as an organization. It allows you to develop crucial partnerships in your area and provides you with resources for continued growth learning.
Most of all, it allows you to be a top player in your field. This is because accreditation sets you apart from potential competitors or like-minded organizations.
The benefits of accreditation are numerous and clear, but due to the stressors involved, the process can be rocky.
Think stacks of binders and papers accumulating throughout the office in addition to the burden of expenses and time. There has to be a better way.
Save yourself a headache, and consider automating your process by choosing an accreditation software solution that’s just right for you and your team.
A Better Solution
A quick anecdote from one of our recent case studies shows some of the above benefits of accreditation and the wisdom of automating the process with a helpful software tool.
Allis Gilbert, Operations Director at Colorado State University (CSU) Health Network, was about to dive into the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) accreditation process for the first time.
While attending a conference, Allis visited with AAAHC to learn more about the accreditation process and garner tips for CSU’s upcoming assessment/self-survey.
She asked if there was an alternative way to prepare for and conduct the assessment/self-survey electronically, using a software solution. AAAHC shared a few options with her, and after seeing the products firsthand, CSU Health Networks invested in PowerDMS.
With PowerDMS, CSU Health Network completed their AAAHC accreditation preparation in six months – a task that previously took 18 months.
By streamlining the process and managing AAAHC accreditation electronically, Allis reported they saved over $139k in staffing and supply costs. This savings includes the price of the PowerDMS software.
Here are a few practical ways you, too, can save valuable time and money by investing in accreditation management software.
1. Make it a whole team effort
As you know, your effort will be more successful for your whole agency if everyone is on board from the get-go.
Think of it this way. Accreditation affects the whole organization, so everyone should be involved – not just key players.
Before you begin, make sure more than just the accreditation manager or the compliance team is on board. Aim to get buy in from your whole team by sharing the benefits of earning accreditation in your field.
Also try to make sure everyone is aware of the potential challenges, so they understand why you are opting to use accreditation management software.
2. Create a single-source of truth
Organization will optimize your accreditation journey from the beginning. The best way to do this is by establishing a single, preferably electronic, source of truth.
You probably know that stacks of paper strewn about the office make keeping things organized pretty difficult. Optimal organization will come in particularly handy in your accreditation process since you will have to review all your policies and procedures during the process.
Make things easier on your organization and keep all your files in one, central location. This way, all of your teammates will be editing and commenting on the same document.
You will be surprised how much stress, time and money a document management tool will save your organization.
3. Let your software do the heavy lifting
Don’t waste unnecessary time, paper, or money by going the old-fashioned route just because it’s what you are used to. You are investing in your accreditation for a reason, so let it do the hard work for you.
With an accreditation software tool like PowerDMS, you can keep your documents side-by-side with accrediting body standards.
You can also highlight critical areas and make necessary changes all in one place, ensuring a smooth accreditation and assessment process for everyone involved.
4. Perform a mock audit
Each accrediting body establishes its own standards, policies, and procedures for compliance.
According to the AAAHC, one of our partnering organizations, “most standards are written in general terms to allow an organization to achieve compliance in the manner that is most compatible with its particular practice setting and most conducive to high quality.”
Take some time to look at your agency’s policies from this perspective.
Consider an auditor’s standards at the beginning of your process, and make sure you are familiar with what your agency’s accrediting body will look for. How will they analyze your operations? What questions might they have?
Find someone less familiar with the accreditation process or even someone from another organization to help you out.
5. Give access to assessors prior to onsite review
Onsite review is a significant aspect of establishing and maintaining accreditation in every field.
The accrediting body CALEA describes the process as follows: “A team of CALEA-trained assessors visits the agency to determine compliance with standards, views agency operations, conducts a public information session, and reports its findings to the Commission for final determination of accreditation status.”
Allowing the accrediting agency access to your documents ahead of time drastically changes the dynamic of their time onsite.
You can address any questions or concerns at the forefront and save a considerable amount of time for everyone.
If you have a policy management solution, you can make those changes quickly, and the assessor or auditor can see the changes almost immediately.
6. Get out of the conference room
Allowing auditors to review your documents electronically before the actual survey helps streamline the process in several ways.
If all of your policies are printed in binders, your accrediting agency will spend most of their time reading through your policies. But if you can share these documents with them before they even arrive on site, they will have more time.
This will free them to tour your facility and see your team in action. Since you’ve probably spent a lot of time training your team in compliance, this is an important aspect of your assessment.
7. Create a re-accreditation plan
When it comes to accreditation, maintenance is just as important as the initial survey.
Think of it as a diet. If you don’t maintain your eating and exercise plan over a longer period, you will lose traction. As a result, you’ll gain back all the weight you lost.
It’s easy to let things devolve into chaos once you get your policy manual in order. After you’ve gone through all the work to prepare for accreditation, establish a plan for maintenance.
Many accrediting agencies accredit organizations in cycle, making a maintenance plan necessary.
CALEA offers some valuable insight the practical side of this. “During its three-year accreditation award cycle, the agency must maintain compliance with applicable standards, keep its proofs of compliance up-to-date, and live by the letter and spirit of those standards. To retain its accredited status, the agency is required to submit their appropriate accreditation continuation fees, as well as an annual report.”
Like many other areas of your work, accreditation and re-accreditation are a process. And as you know, every valuable process has the potential for complications and stress.
By planning ahead and streamlining your policies and procedures, you can save your organization a lot of headaches.
Not Sure Where to Begin?
Regardless of your industry or the accreditation you seek, invest some time and research accreditation management software. A good tool can help you save time, money, and the hassle of managing the process by hand.
At PowerDMS, we’ve partnered with dozens of state and federal agencies, as well as accrediting bodies from numerous industries, to provide their standards directly in our app. So you can compare your current policies, highlight pertinent areas, and create virtual binders all from one spot.
If you’re interested, we can set up a live walk through to show you how you can save time and money with our accreditation software.