Impact of accreditation on quality in healthcare

It's hard to overstate the importance of accreditation in healthcare. Here are a few ways accreditation can improve quality in your organization.

December 22, 2020

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It’s hard to overstate the importance of accreditation in healthcare.

Every healthcare organization establishes some sort of internal standards and rules for operations. But accreditation ensures that your organization meets regulations and standards set by a recognized, external organization.

It’s like the difference between telling someone that you are smart, and showing them your diploma from Harvard.

Accreditation acts as an external stamp of approval on your organization, showing that you follow industry standards and best practices.

But accreditation in healthcare isn’t just about reputation. Going through the accreditation process helps streamline operations, improve the quality of care, and build trust with patients and the community.

What is accreditation in healthcare?

Simply put, accreditation in healthcare is a form of external review that shows that a healthcare provider is meeting regulations and standards set by an external accreditation organization.

In order for a healthcare organization to achieve accreditation, they must prove compliance with the standards. This usually involves a rigorous review process, in which industry experts survey the organization’s structures and policies.

What does accreditation mean in healthcare?

Healthcare accreditation organizations such as the AAAHC, The Joint Commission, or the National Committee for Quality Assurance create a set of standards with the help of industry experts.

The standards cover everything from training materials, to data retention, to equipment maintenance.

To prepare for accreditation, organizations must do a comprehensive assessment of processes, policies, and procedures, and anything else related to accreditation standards. This allows them to identify any areas where there are gaps in compliance.

The organization’s leaders can then make changes to ensure that the structures meet standards and regulations.

Once the organization is prepared, external surveyors will conduct an on-site survey to decide whether to approve the organization for accreditation. The surveyors are usually industry experts and peer reviewers from other accredited organizations.

To maintain accreditation, the organization may have to undergo review every few years to ensure continued compliance.

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Goal of accreditation for healthcare organizations

Ultimately, the purpose of accreditation in healthcare is to strengthen your organization and prove that you provide high-quality care.

Achieving and maintaining accreditation provides benchmarks for measuring how your organization is doing. The process helps you maintain compliance with healthcare laws and regulations and keep up to date with industry standards.

Benefits of accreditation in healthcare

Preparing for accreditation can be a long, intensive process. It requires collaborating with administrators and leaders to update policies, procedures, and training materials.

But accreditation is a worthwhile investment. In the end, achieving accreditation in healthcare can have many important benefits for your organization:

Improved quality of care

Achieving accreditation requires holding staff to high standards for patient care. Studies have shown that accreditation improves the overall quality of care in healthcare facilities.

In certain specialty areas, accreditation programs even improve patient outcomes.

In a survey by the Public Health Accreditation Board, 98% of respondents agreed that accreditation prompted their organization to improve quality and performance.

Healthcare accreditation requires organizations to examine processes in every department and section of their facility. This also improves the quality of care by decreasing variations in the ways different staff members and departments care for patients.

The standards ensure that patients will receive consistent, excellent care throughout the facility.

Increased community confidence

In healthcare, patient trust is essential. Patients are putting their personal health – and often their lives – in the hands of healthcare staff.

Accreditation shows your patients that they can trust your organization to take care of them. It also demonstrates to the community that you are seeking to provide the highest quality service possible.

When community members see that your organization is accredited, they know that you have voluntarily undergone the process of meeting rigorous standards.

This increased confidence not only brings in more patients, it also can help your organization build partnerships within your community.

Better operational efficiency and processes

Healthcare organizations face unique challenges when it comes to management and business operations.

Organizations must make sure their operations comply with a complex series of federal and state laws. They also must continually improve processes while also cutting costs.

A survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review found that management issues were the biggest challenges facing healthcare providers.

They interviewed more than 150 healthcare executives at different types of organizations, and found that more than half of them said their operational model needed to change.

Accreditation in healthcare can help organizations make strategic shifts. Most accreditation standards provide a framework to help your organization set up better structures and achieve operational excellence.

In the Public Health Accreditation Board survey, 90% of respondents said accreditation improved the management processes of their leadership team.

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Reduced liability insurance

Healthcare is a high-risk and highly regulated industry. Federal healthcare regulations such as HIPAA, the False Claims Act, the Affordable Care Act, and more are complex and ever-changing.

Medical mistakes or compliance violations can cost your organization millions in lawsuits, or even put you out of business.

Preparing for accreditation requires doing a comprehensive review of how your organization functions. This lets you see the areas where you are most at risk.

You may spot a gap in compliance or find that you need to adjust the procedure to make a certain task safer. This proactive approach to risk management will result in safer processes, and therefore, fewer mistakes.

As a result, accreditation may provide you with better access to liability insurance.

Some insurance companies offer a reduced premium to facilities that are accredited. This can bring significant savings for your organization, and may even offset the cost of accreditation.

Gain competitive advantage

Accreditation gives you a leg up on your competition. Potential patients or partners are more likely to choose an accredited healthcare facility over one that is not accredited.

Since accreditation improves the quality of care, it also improves patient satisfaction. And satisfied patients spread the word and come back when they need additional medical help.

Receive shared policies, procedures, and best practices

When your organization gets accredited, you gain access to a whole new world of resources and partnerships.

Often the accreditation organization will offer ongoing tips and resources to help keep you up to date on new regulation, technology, and changes in the industry.

You can also share knowledge with other accredited organizations to improve your policies and procedures and keep up with current best practices.


Obtain insights and transparency through external review

When accreditation surveyors conduct their review of your organization, they do more than just check that your facility meets the standards.

Often, they will give you advice and insights on how to improve your organization above and beyond the standards.

The peer reviewers bring an objective, outside perspective that can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your organization. Often, they are leaders from other healthcare organizations, so they can provide concrete examples of strategies that have helped their organization improve.

Since your organization has to go through peer review every few years to maintain accreditation, the process will keep your organization moving forward and constantly improving.

These are just a few of the benefits of accreditation in healthcare. Healthcare accreditation can help your organization improve the quality of care, streamline operations, reduce liability risks, and more.

Achieving and maintaining accreditation gives you a clear picture of how to constantly improve your organization for years to come.

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