Archive December 2013 XIV, No. 12

How Do You Really Feel About Accreditation?

Most readers we surveyed tout its benefits, with a few caveats.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Executive Editor

BIO

accreditation surveyors FRIENDLY ADVICE Many surveyors create a collegial atmosphere and don't hesitate to give credit for things done right.

Ninety-six percent of the readers we surveyed find accreditation valuable, but some complain that the process is too expensive and filled with too much red tape. "Some surgeons or administrators might think there are too many rules to follow and they shouldn't pay to have people tell them what to do," says Tina Mentz, executive director of the Elmhurst (Ill.) Outpatient Surgery Center. "But really, in the end, it's about ensuring you're following best practices. It's the right thing to do."

Ms. Mentz's facility has been accredited since opening in 1999 in order to receive Medicare reimbursements and payments from some private payors. "We first sought accreditation because we had to, and that's certainly part of the reason we've continued," she says. "But we also learn a great deal from the survey process." According to our survey, 60% of responders seek accreditation to secure reimbursements, while 16% do so to ensure their staffs stay current with national guidelines.

Ms. Mentz says her accreditors have revamped their approach in recent years to better assess the unique circumstances of the outpatient setting. (Three-fourths of survey respondents believe accreditation standards reflect their practice settings.) They spend approximately 3 days tracing patients from pre-op to PACU, conducting document reviews, walking through the facility to assess the environment of care and conducting exit interviews.

"They're always teaching and providing examples of how other facilities solve issues similar to ours," says Ms. Mentz. "We appreciate the teachable moments and refer to them throughout the year."

She says surveyors ask questions about the ways things are done in her facility and give staff opportunity to explain how they relate to the policies and procedures. "They even give us time to consult specific policies, knowing our staff can't memorize every directive," she adds.

Ms. Mentz says most surveyors want you to do a good job. "They'll share ideas and tools for doing things better," she explains. "We certainly get cited if something we're doing violates a standard, but they'll give us education we can use to fix it, as opposed to saying it's your problem, go figure it out."

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