In the medical industry, quality of care is measured through a series of accreditation processes by independent surveyors. These checks are designed to ensure that policies, procedures, processes, and outcomes are all held to acceptable standards by stakeholders, such as insurance groups and regulatory agencies like The Joint Commission. Most accreditation agencies use the widely respected and accepted framework form ISO 9001 because of its emphasis on risk management.
On one hand, it is difficult to argue with a process designed to improve quality of care and reduce cost and risk. On the other hand, it’s common for all major sectors of healthcare to feel apprehensive about the accreditation process. Much of this anxiety stems from a misunderstanding of how this process adds value to the organization.
To help relieve the stresses of the accreditation process, we’ve broken down four common myths about accreditation and form ISO 9001.
Myth #1: “The accreditation results are prescriptive by nature.”
For starters, the accreditation process is not a one-size fits-all approach that encourages uniformity to a rigid set of standards.
Although modern accreditation processes do abide by set standards, they place greater emphasis on the fundamental aspects of quality care. A more uniform approach would be highly ineffective because of the variety of practices offered by hospitals and in varying standards held by state and local agencies. For this reason, accreditation programs offer flexibility in how a standard is met by emphasizing outcomes.
Myth #2: “The accreditation process discourages innovation.”
This common misconception is that recommendations and negative survey results are punitive in nature. If you fail to meet a specific standard, you are given a strike. In turn, this would lead to a lack of innovation and discourage organizations from trying something new.
Simply put, the results of the accreditation process are a measure of how management teams promote a high standard of quality. Ultimately, how an organization integrates the accreditor’s recommendations is completely up to their management team. In fact, the most innovative organizations use the accreditor’s results as an unbiased review of their quality of care.
Even better – if a new approach isn’t producing the expected results, health organizations are given the opportunity to continue building up to success.
Myth #3: “Form ISO 9001 isn’t applicable to health organizations.”
Many organizations struggle with accepting ISO 9001 survey results when used by an accreditation agency. This is largely due to the fact that ISO 9001 is typically used in manufacturing and automated industries.
You should take into consideration that the new ISO 9001 standards are specifically designed to be more applicable to the needs of healthcare. They take more of a risk assessment approach as it is inherent to its environment. In fact, this allows for greater flexibility in how to access standards based on the potential challenges and hazards of diverse healthcare environments.
Myth #4: “Positive survey results release organizations from corrective action plans.”
Actually, sustaining accreditation standards is the real challenge. Most organizations have become accustomed to “dressing up” their policies, procedures, and processes to satisfy standards. Then, they simply slip back into poor practices and bad habits, leading to a gradual decline in quality of care until the next survey.
Why not maintain your progress and high quality of care post-accreditation? Today, surveyors are encouraging management teams to formulate plans to keep up the standards and improvements once the pressure has lifted. Putting a corrective action plan in place helps organizations stay accountable when their new benchmarks start to slide.
Think of it this way – the accreditation process offers your healthcare organization the opportunity to gain a big-picture, outside perspective on your quality of care. Surveyors are highly knowledgeable of not only how to meet standards, but why these standards exist in the first place. Fostering an open discussion with surveyors about fundamental safety practices is key to maintaining high quality care and continuous process improvements.
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Learn more about the impact of an organization’s culture on accreditation with our webcast series, Changing the Culture of Accreditation DNV GL - Healthcare. This webcast is presented by special guest Patrick Horine, President and CEO of DNV-GL Healthcare. With more than 35 years of healthcare management experience, Patrick will review key factors that lead to sustaining high quality care after accreditation.