10 Last-Minute Accreditation Survey Tips

Whether your organization is Joint Commission-accredited or follows the standards and regulations of another body, prepare for a compliance evaluation, aka a “survey.” After ensuring that your policies and procedures are sound, staff and clinicians adhere to the standards, and a culture of improvement is woven into operations, success comes down to performance during the survey. We offer last-minute tips to help you succeed under the surveyor's microscope.

So take a deep breath and lean on your training, expertise, and professionalism to confidently carry you through the day. But keep these pearls handy as a refresher for when the surveyor shows up on your doorstep.

10. Be friendly and enthusiastic and maintain a professional appearance.

You know your role so well, you likely whip around at the speed of light on a typical day. Survey day isn’t typical. When you are one-on-one with the surveyor, slow down and be mindful of your actions and demeanor.

9. Ensure that your workspace is clean and organized.

Know how and where to quickly access all policy, procedure, and supporting documentation you use to function in your role. Have your go-to electronic sources ready (intranet, software programs, etc.).

8. Maintain your security/privacy protocols.

Log off computer screens when you step away. Ensure that credentialing and privileging applications and folders that contain confidential provider or patient information remain safeguarded. Knock when entering offices and close doors behind you as you move around during the survey. Use shredders when appropriate.

7. Be a team player.

Use and rely on your colleagues by presenting a united front. When the surveyor poses a question, collaborate to respond if necessary, especially if you notice a co-worker struggling.

6. Choose your words carefully and answer questions directly and succinctly.

Ensure you understand the question posed. If not, ask for clarification. After giving it some thought, answer. Once you have responded, stop talking. If the survey needs additional info, they will ask a follow-up. 

5. Be upfront if you don't have an answer.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, let the surveyor know that, but offer up that you know where to find the answer or whom you can enlist to provide it.  

4. Treat the surveyor like a consultant and show your curiosity and willingness to learn.

Ask searching questions along the lines of, “How have you found that other organizations conduct this?” Surveyors have a limited timeline. Wouldn’t you rather fill some of that time with your questions instead of vice versa?

3. If your surveyor points out to you something they feel is out of compliance, ask for more explanation.

Politely ask to have them show you exactly where in the standards it states the language to support their finding. Sometimes surveyors make mistakes!

2. Don’t let the surveyor leave with your documents.

There is no requirement that you give them copies of a document to take. They may ask, and often do so, when they find policies or other material they especially like. However, it’s your call about giving that away. There is no advantage for you to let them take it. Use your software to show reports, templates, and other tools that help you standardize and comply.

1. Don’t just do all of the above for TJC or any accreditor/regulator!

Your role is key in onboarding and preparing providers to practice great care. Constant survey readiness and consistent professional behavior that furthers your goal to put the patient at the center is needed every day—not just those “special occasions” when you host a surveyor.

Let symplr Provider help you pass your next survey with flying colors.


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