Accreditation – A Bedrock of Risk Management

When insurance companies are considering coverage for an organization, they are generally looking for those that can demonstrate high performance in risk prevention, safety, quality, outcomes, and qualified and competent staff. Accreditation standards often drive good practices in these same areas, particularly with risk management and performance improvement. Thus, the accreditation status of an organization can be indicative of the frequency and severity of costly claims.

Dan Rains, CSP, ARM, Risk Control Manager for Berkley Human Services, offers insight, “Accreditation speaks volumes about the quality of an organization. It demonstrates commitment to a continuous improvement culture with data-driven quality assurance processes and visionary leadership. These are all things that are important from an underwriting perspective which can have long term impact on losses and total cost of risk.”

Sean Conaboy, MSW, MPA, Insurance advisor with NSM Insurance Brokers, Behavioral Healthcare/Human Services Practice provides additional insight. “Insurance companies are interested in how an organization mitigates its risks, and one sound mitigation strategy is national accreditation. That’s why the first questions on an insurance application are regarding both licensure and type of accreditation.”

Accreditation as a Risk Reduction Strategy

By shifting an organization from a reactive stance after an adverse event to an ongoing proactive risk management approach, accreditation can become the bedrock for effective risk control and mitigation. The standards and survey process of accreditation guides an organization in a process of identifying and assessing actual and potential risks as well as implementing activities to prevent occurrence and to reduce severity should there be an occurrence.  Connaboy agrees, “When an applicant for insurance notes that they are accredited by a national accrediting body, the underwriter reviewing the application can assume that the organization has a strong infrastructure based on sound risk control activities and practices. At the end of the day, insurance companies want to know how well-run an organization is – and being accredited provides the framework for a well-run organization.”

Additionally, legal conformance and regulatory compliance are universal, risk-reducing requirements of all accrediting bodies. Accrediting organizations also encourage and assist organizations to go beyond what is regulated and strive for a higher level of quality and safety through a continuous improvement process that incorporates monitoring the effectiveness of risk reduction activities as well as outcomes achieved.

Risk Exposures and Controls

Risk exposures and controls are addressed in a variety of ways during the accreditation process, notably in standards and in areas addressed during the onsite survey. Below are some examples of the high-risk exposure areas and controls that may be used to mitigate the exposure.

Risk: Transporting Clients/Persons Served

Control Examples:

  • Criteria for authorizing drivers
  • Use of vehicle telematics
  • Appropriate safety restraints and adequate passenger supervision

Risk: Abuse/Molestation

Control Examples:

  • Zero-tolerance policies/Culture of safety
  • Criminal background and reference checks
  • Mandated reporting policy/procedures

Risk: Cyber Attack

Control Examples:

  • Initial and periodic staff training on cybersecurity
  • Policies and procedures addressing staff use of computers and passwords (remote access)
  • Software protection of information
  • Updating computers and backup/recovery procedures

Risk: Lack of Qualified/Competent Staff

Control Examples:

  • Policies and procedures for verification of credentials
  • Oversight and supervision of staff
  • Staff training
  • Written job descriptions linking duties/responsibilities to qualifications/competencies

Effective risk controls also include emergency response preparedness. An accredited agency is usually required to have a written disaster plan including, if applicable, evacuation and relocation of staff and clients, as well as specific plans to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities and other special needs during emergencies. The organization must also address coordination with governmental authorities and emergency responders.

Accreditation and the Risk Management Model

The standard risk management model includes identification, analysis, evaluation, and mitigation of risk. Accreditation can help organizations to identify risks they perhaps have not thought about, such as requiring a possible potential disaster be used in an emergency management plan. Requirements to conduct a risk assessment help organizations analyze and evaluate risks to determine how severe or costly they might be and can help identify risk controls to mitigate the risk. Additionally, accreditation helps organizations to reduce or mitigate risk through standard compliance in key areas, such as safety standards, fire code compliance, IT data management, human resources policies, emergency planning, and more.

How Can Accreditation Guru Help?

Although reducing risks is common with accreditation, there are differences in the risk management/risk reduction requirements between the accrediting bodies. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about the differences in risk management standards across the national accrediting bodies.

In addition to helping organizations achieve their accreditation goals, Accreditation Guru’s consulting team is also available to assess your organization’s risk management/risk reduction processes. Our service includes a holistic, systemic assessment of your risk management process or an assessment of one or more specific critical risk exposures.

 

For more information or questions about the contents of this article, please write or call Jennifer Flowers @ Jennifer@AccreditationGuru.com / 212.209.0240.   This post contains original content and was written for Accreditation Guru, Inc. Use of this copy is permitted with credit and reference within the same body of copy to Accreditation Guru, Inc.

Accreditation Maintenance: Key to Continued Achievement

Congratulations! You’ve worked hard to earn accreditation, which affirms that you meet designated national industry standards, and that you are focused on supporting your staff, organization-wide continuous improvement and most importantly, supporting positive outcomes for those in your care. You and your colleagues celebrated the achievement and have now returned to your daily routines with renewed vigor.

It’s easy to forget, however, that the countdown to reaccreditation begins the day you achieve your goal. Depending on the accrediting body, your organization will go through a reaccreditation review every 3 or 4 years and you will be required to submit annual accreditation reports. Complicating matters, accreditation standards are generally updated annually.

Here’s the good news:  With an accreditation maintenance plan – your organization can and should experience the initial accreditation effort as the ‘heaviest lift’.  In other words, by taking a few simple steps, reaccreditation should not be as time consuming or detailed as the initial accreditation process.

Maintenance can be as easy as a periodic check in or a more thorough review of standards.  Either way, the goal is to ensure the appropriate documentation is gathered along the way, rather than scramble to get everything together when the deadline approaches

Of course, every organization has different needs, so AG has developed a few different Accreditation Maintenance Plans to meet those needs.  Some agencies find that a few hours of focus per quarter at their discretion is enough to allow questions to be answered and updates reviewed, others prefer a more scheduled check in, and standards updates that we track on their behalf.  Whatever the need, we have found that given the time and resources spent achieving this initial distinction, working to proactively maintain accreditation for the long term will not only continue to strengthen your organization’s operations but it will improve services as it makes the reaccreditation process more efficient and effortless.

The bottom line:  The key to continued achievement is to establish a pattern of maintenance in your organization with continued focus on the overall implementation of accreditation standards, including client safety, risk management and performance and quality improvement.

Here are some ideas to consider when thinking about accreditation maintenance:

  • An effective and sustainable performance and quality improvement program must be clearly demonstrated as an ongoing part of the agency’s operations from year to year.
  • Best practices include sharing quarterly and annual performance summary reports with staff and board members. Annually sharing key performance metrics with various stakeholder groups to demonstrate increased transparency and open communications should also be considered.
  • An annual calendar of accreditation milestones helps keep your organization on track for reaccreditation and provides a solid review of the progress you’ve made to proactively prepare for the process.

If your organization needs help establishing or maintaining any of the accreditation standards or implementing ideas noted above, Accreditation Guru can help.  We place an emphasis on performance and quality improvement, risk management, annual reporting requirements, and updates to standards as they pertain specifically to your organization.  Check out our plans here or contact us directly for more information.

What does it mean to “live” accreditation?

Achieving national accreditation is more than passing a test. Navigating the road to accreditation requires a service provider to commit to quality improvement, focus on the unique needs of each person the provider serves and monitor the results of services. It announces to the world that your organization strives to be the best it can be. That’s hard work, but the process sets you on the course for long-term greatness.

Organizations are best served to approach accreditation as investment in their future. It helps to raise the bar internally and not only creates a more stable entity, but one that can more effectively manage growth in the future. Once achieved, if a human service provider truly “lives” accreditation (embraces and applies enhanced operational and program practices) it will strengthen their ability to improve the lives of the people they serve.

To read more on the advantages of accreditation, click here.

For questions and assistance with your accreditation and/or post accreditation, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or email Jennifer Flowers.

Addiction Treatment Centers Need Certification to Advertise on Facebook

Last year, Google barred advertisements from appearing in search results for addiction treatment centers in the United States. Starting last month, however, the company allowed centers with LegitScript Addiction Treatment Certification to run ads on its platform.

Now, Facebook recently announced that it will also require that addiction treatment centers achieve certification before they are approved to advertise on its properties, including Instagram and Messenger. LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service for online pharmacies, charges $995 for initial certification and $1,995 for annual vetting.

Google and Facebook’s advertising restrictions stemmed from complaints about addiction centers that targeted people suffering from addiction, offering sub-par clinical services to the highest bidder or making out-of-state recommendations solely to collect a referral fee. Other disreputable addiction treatment centers inflate staff qualifications and engage in improper billing.

Still, it is important to remember that certification represents a lower standard than accreditation. There is no need to rely on random internet searches to find reputable addiction treatment providers: just determine if a given organization is nationally accredited by an independent accrediting agency.

To earn national accreditation, an external panel of experts conducts thorough on-site scrutiny of addiction and human services organizations to ensure that they adhere to the rigorous guidelines and criteria set by the nationally recognized accrediting bodies. The initial process takes up to a year of preparation and organizations must reapply for accreditation every three or four years to maintain the designation.

National accreditation provides independent third-party validation of an organization’s quality of care. Addiction treatment centers and other human service organizations usually tout this status on their websites. Reputable treatment providers can also be found directly on the accrediting bodies’ websites, including The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO), the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the Council on Accreditation (COA).

LegitScript’s certification applies to “any website, application, or merchant that provides information about in-person drug or alcohol addiction treatment, or facilitates in-person or online drug or alcohol treatment, other than at a private residence or non-clinical setting.” Recovery residences that “do not provide clinical services or addiction treatment, provide or purport to provide a cooperative living environment in a non-commercial location (a private residence or similar setting), and are not part of a larger treatment program offered by an addiction treatment provider, are not eligible for certification.”

Read more about the crackdown on addiction treatment advertising online here

The Alliance’s New “Operations Support Services”

As a partner of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Accreditation Guru is excited to share with you their new and game-changing “Operations Support Services” offering for the nonprofit sector. This offering is intended to help leaders address provision of operations support services related to human resources, finance, administrative operations, and more. This is available to ALL nonprofits in the United States, not just Alliance member organizations.

Across the country, daily tasks, ranging from detailed budget reports to regular donor stewardship, siphon limited energy and resources that could be better directed toward program implementation. Because dollars available for overhead functions are particularly scarce, nonprofits should look for smart ways to maximize these resources. For organizations that cannot cost-effectively sustain internal capacity and expertise in administrative functions, the gap will continually widen and plague their abilities to focus and execute on their missions.

The Alliance is dedicated to helping community-based organizations (CBOs) bolster their approach to risk management, improve the effectiveness of fund usage, and understand the benefit of shared services—all of which allow for an increased focus on mission and people served. The “Operations Support Services” offering was created to help fulfill the five identified “North Star” initiatives in the landmark report, “A National Imperative: Joining Forces to Strengthen Human Services in America,” by the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and the American Public Human Services Association.

By partnering with the Alliance, CBOs can outsource various financial and administrative duties for which internal capacity and resources may be limited. As part of this new venture, the Alliance also is offering competitive and robust benefits packages, enhanced retirement planning services, and comprehensive EAP and work-life services to their employees at a reasonable cost, regardless of their size. In addition, the Alliance’s unemployment tax program combats hidden expenses, avoids claims volatility, and enables better management of cash flow and claim tracking.

The Alliance has established many strategic partnerships to facilitate provision of operations support services that can be customized for any size nonprofit:

  • Flexible accounting and bookkeeping assistance delivered directly by Alliance staff
  • Comprehensive, competitively priced group health insurance packages offered via industry
    leaders that cover thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of lives
  • Employee assistance and work-life services from FEI Behavioral Health, the Alliance’s
    social enterprise
  • The ability to provide a wide range of retirement plans and planning services to employees,
    with the added value of no administrative fees
  • A cost-effective alternative to the state unemployment tax system
  • Access to group purchasing savings programs

“Along with our expertise in human resources, finance, and administrative operations, it is our intent to enhance and expand our support services to help leaders address needs related to fundraising and development; marketing, public relations, and communications; and information technology,” explains Lenore Schell, Alliance senior vice president of strategic business innovation.
For more information, visit the Alliance’s website.

2017 Blog Recap

Did you miss any of our Accreditation Guru blog posts during the past year? We published nearly 25 informative articles on topics ranging from accreditation preparation to nonprofit management to issues affecting the behavioral healthcare field. Below we have highlighted some of our most popular posts from 2017 that may be worth a second look for your organization as you beginning planning for the New Year. Thank you for being loyal followers in 2017. We look forward to providing you with more informative posts in 2018! Here’s to the happiest of New Years!

Accreditation

Nonprofit Management and Boards of Directors

Behavioral Healthcare

AG’s own Corporate Social Responsibility

And don’t forget our popular series “Accreditation in Action,” which highlights organizations across the country and how they benefit from being nationally accredited.

Happy reading!