How Accreditation Supports Mergers and Acquisitions

Since 2018, there has been significant merger and acquisition activity in the behavioral healthcare field, but why? Individuals are becoming more aware of healthcare issues; there is less stigma about seeking help for mental health struggles; and more effective treatments are now available. This has created increased demand for and use of mental health and addiction treatment services, as well as channeling more funding towards meeting the demand and growing need. Not only this, but as individuals, including professionals, gain understanding of the link between mental and physical wellbeing, more integration of physical and behavioral health care is occurring. So, where does accreditation come in?

There are a number of accrediting bodies that work to ensure providers of substance use disorder treatment and mental health services meet specific, nationally accepted standards, including The Joint Commission, CARF International, Council on Accreditation (a service of Social Current) and others.

Accreditation requirements (standards of safety and quality of care) center around three main areas: documentation, facilities, and people. Documentation standards focus on written plans; polices and procedures; clinical records; and personnel files. For people, standards address not only the care of the persons served, but also those that provide it. Facility standards ensure that the physical environment where care is being provided is safe, healthy, and therapeutic for everyone within. All these standards create stability within an organization, which is a favorable factor in M&A activity.

Achieving accreditation also gives a behavioral health organization a framework for growth and management of their internal resources. It helps to standardize clinical processes and documentation and provides an external validation of the quality of services provided. Accredited organizations will often see increased efficiencies from improved practice consistency, tightened administrative practices, and an increased emphasis on risk management. Because of accreditation requirements, organizations will inevitably have a broader view and a more detailed approach to risk mitigation and risk management than they’re doing on their own.

For an investor looking to acquire a service provider, seeing that a facility is accredited can provide peace of mind. Accreditation indicates that an organization has gone through the work to create a strategic plan, comply with legal and regulatory requirements, and has implemented quality monitoring practices. All of which assist with due diligence, both on the administrative and clinical sides. Investors can also be assured that the facility’s finances are well managed, as accreditation speaks to sound financial management practices. There are even a number of reports that say accreditation reduces staff turnover, which can save an organization money and maintain a high-quality workforce.

Another part of due diligence is examination of litigation and claims history of an organization. Have there been any lawsuits filed or any pending? What is the frequency and severity of claims? Are there identifiable patterns and trends? What steps were taken to reduce the chance of reoccurrence? Accreditation supports this type of investigation by helping to maintain a positive history by proactive identification of risk and finding ways to mitigate or eliminate it where possible. Secondly, it encourages a performance improvement process that requires collection and analysis of key data and then taking action for improvement. Additionally, accreditation promotes a safe and healthy physical environment with requirements for emergency and disaster planning.

If your organization is going through a merger or considering accreditation, you are not alone! Accreditation Guru operates nationwide and provides a number of services to guide you through the process, such as:

  • Individual accreditation consultation
  • Mock surveys
  • Development of accreditation-compliant plans and policies
  • Risk assessment
  • Strategic planning facilitation
  • And more…

If you would like to have a conversation, please feel free to contact us via our website or schedule a free Zoom consultation with one of our experts.

For more information or questions about the contents of this article, please write Peggy Lavin @ peggy@accreditationguru.com.   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.

Benefits of Accreditation for Continuing Education and Training Programs

Accreditation is a process by which an educational or training program is evaluated by an independent accrediting body to determine if it meets certain standards of quality and rigor. Accreditation can be an important factor in the success of continuing education and training (CE/T) programs, both for the program itself and for the students (learners) who participate in it. In this article, we will explore the benefits of accreditation for continuing education and training programs, including its impact on employability, reputation, and competitiveness.

Employability of Graduates in a Variety of Job Markets

One of the primary benefits of accreditation for continuing education and training programs is its impact on the employability of graduates in a variety of job markets. Employers have increased trust in the competency of graduates from accredited programs, which can give these individuals an edge when applying for jobs. For example, in the healthcare field, accredited nursing programs are often preferred by employers because they demonstrate that graduates have received the necessary training to provide high-quality patient care. Similarly, in the technology industry, graduates of accredited computer science programs are seen as having the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the field.

Competitive Advantage for the Training Program

Accreditation can also help a continuing education or training program stand out from the competition and develop a reputation for excellence. Accreditation can be a useful marketing tool for attracting new students and demonstrating the quality of the program. For example, a training program that is accredited by a respected agency may be more likely to attract students than a program that is not accredited. Additionally, accreditation can help a program differentiate itself from other programs in the same field, which can be particularly important in industries where competition for students is high.

Strategic Edge for the Employer

Accreditation can also give employers a competitive edge by demonstrating that their employees have received high-quality training. When employers hire graduates of accredited programs, they can be confident that these employees have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their roles. Additionally, accreditation can demonstrate that the employer is committed to providing high-quality training for their employees, which can be an important factor in attracting and retaining top talent. For example, a hospital that hires nurses from accredited programs may be seen as providing better patient care than hospitals that do not require accreditation.

Distinctive Advantage for the Student

Finally, accreditation can increase the value of a student’s training and qualifications, which can lead to higher salaries and better benefits. When learners complete an accredited program, they can be confident that they have received training that meets quality educational practices. This can make them more attractive to employers and increase their earning potential. For example, graduates of accredited engineering programs often command higher salaries than graduates of non-accredited programs. Additionally, some employers offer higher salaries and better benefits to employees who have received training from accredited programs, which can further enhance the value of accreditation for students.

Conclusion

Accreditation is an important factor in the success of continuing education and training programs, both for the program itself and for the students who participate in it. Accreditation can enhance the employability of graduates, give programs a competitive edge, and increase the value of students’ training and qualifications. As such, it is important for students to seek out accredited programs when considering their educational or training options. Additionally, training programs should strive to achieve accreditation to demonstrate their commitment to providing high-quality training and attract students and employers who value this level of standards of excellence.

If you have a continuing education or training program that could benefit from earning national accreditation, please contact us to discuss your unique needs and timeline.

 

***Note, the benefits discussed here are applicable to a wide variety of CE/T subject matters. They are also applicable whether the CE/T organization is accredited by IACET, ACCET, or those accrediting organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education (CHEA) for institutions of higher education.

New Year – New Accreditation

Ringing in the New Year brings about a mindset of reflectiveness and a desire for transformation. As the calendar changes over, people are given the chance for a fresh start and are once again motivated to push themselves towards goals that had been previously set aside. These objectives are often personal, but what if you want to improve more than just yourself? What if, in 2023, you want to see the whole of your organization grow and flourish in a way that benefits both your employees and your clients? In that case, there’s no better time to start pursuing accreditation!

Accreditation goes beyond simple certification: it ensures that an institution adheres to nationally recognized standards centered on safety and quality care. Individuals seeking out treatment for themselves, or for a loved one, know that an accredited facility will have commitment to higher standards and monitor their operations on a regular basis, which provides a sense of security for everyone involved. Beyond this, accreditation will improve the environment of the organization as a whole by streamlining procedures and implementing easily-followed structures for staff and leadership

Some benefits of accreditation include…

  • Improves quality outcomes
  • Internal standardization of processes
  • External validation of the quality of programs and services
  • Increased efficiencies from improved practice consistency
  • Tightens administrative practices
  • Focus on staff recruitment, training, supervision, and retention
  • Increased emphasis on risk management
  • Improves credibility and boosts reputation
  • Improved competencies of supervisors and staff
  • Increased revenue

With the new year comes an opportunity for new focus, and whether you’ve been considering accreditation for a while or it’s only just come to mind, 2023 is the perfect year to get started. Even if you’re already accredited, time needs to be devoted to proactively maintaining your accredited status. Taking a moment to review your policies in preparation for your next survey can ensure it will be a smooth and seamless process, and perhaps it’s time to consider if your current accrediting body is still the right fit for your organization.

If you’d like to learn more about how Accreditation Guru can help make your life easier when it comes to preparing for (re)accreditation or maintaining your accredited status, feel free to contact us or schedule a 30-minute Zoom call with one of our experts.

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.

Five Reasons for Substance Use Treatment Providers to Become Accredited

Substance use disorder treatment providers have many reasons to seek national accreditation and to benefit from this process. Whether seeking accreditation from The Joint Commission, CARF International, Council on Accreditation (a division of Social Current), Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), or other, here are 5 top reasons to become accredited:

Reason #1 – Promotes Quality Treatment in a Safe and Healthy Environment

An external survey of quality and safety conducted by well-trained professional accrediting body surveyors provides reassurance and builds trust for the individual, family, or referral source seeking a treatment resource. The accreditation hallmark distinguishes a treatment resource as going beyond minimum state licensing standards. Accrediting bodies promote accredited organizations on their websites so that parents, individuals, and healthcare professionals can easily identify treatment resources with the accreditation hallmark of distinction.

Reason #2 – Strengthens Business Practices

Accreditation standards address ethical marketing practices, require transparency in plans and policies, look for actions taken based on staff and consumer feedback, and promotes equity in treatment based on the person’s needs.

Reason #3 – Standardizes Administrative and Clinical Processes

Accreditation supports consistent delivery of good care to every consumer. It requires a multi-dimensional assessment (best practice) so that each consumer is receiving exactly the care and treatment needed by competent and qualified staff. The standardization of processes provides a framework for increasing service capacity, allowing for expansion of levels of care, new programs and services, and treatment at additional locations.

Reason #4 – Expands Reimbursement Options

Accreditation is increasingly being used as an indicator of quality by third-party payers as a condition of substance use treatment payment approval. Private, commercial insurance companies, and managed care entities require accreditation to become an “approved” provider. The accreditation hallmark of quality and safety may also result in more diversified referral sources as healthcare professionals recognize the organization’s commitment to quality and safety.

Reason #5 – Supports Efficient and Effective Billing

Being reimbursed in a timely manner is a critical business practice component for any substance use treatment provider. The clinical documentation required by accrediting bodies supports and justifies admissions (medical necessity of services), level of care, treatment interventions, continued stay/treatment, and transfer or discharge. This type of clinical documentation reduces denials of reimbursement or provides the documentation needed for appeals of denials.

The results of a recent study of Joint Commission accredited organizations by ROI Institute supports National Accreditation and identifies returns on accreditation investment.

If you are ready to reap the benefits of accreditation for your organization, or if you have questions about the process, please contact us.

 

For more information or questions about the contents of this article, please write or call Peggy Lavin @ Peggy@AccreditationGuru.com / 847.219.1296.

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.

How Accreditation Supports Recovery Principles

The national accrediting bodies have been among the moving forces in the integration of the recovery model into the care, treatment and services for people with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Recovery principles can now be seen throughout behavioral health standards of accrediting bodies as well as the outlined expectations that an organization will demonstrate conformance/compliance to these standards. And, the integration makes sense – this model not only complements the more traditional model of medication and “talk” therapies, but also expands the focus to include the person’s own goals and strengths and empowers them to be actively involved in the process.

The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) has also integrated the recovery model in their publications, requirements for certified community-based behavioral health clinics, training materials, and grants. To that end – they’ve developed the Working Definition of Recovery. Several of the guiding principles shown here are addressed in the accrediting bodies’ standards.

Accrediting bodies’ implementation of such a model involves workforce training so that staff can fully understand and embody the organization’s philosophy, thus permeating service delivery to positively impact the recovery of the people served.  In addition, the accreditation survey process itself supports the recovery principles. Surveyor(s) not only review written documents, but also observe interactions amongst staff at all levels and persons served and share their observations with the organization. This external survey can confirm, enhance, and strengthen the organization’s intent and commitment to recovery principles

While accreditation as a whole supports the recovery model, below are specific examples of ways in which accreditation and the recovery model intersect:

Person-Driven – An individualized plan of care, treatment, and services based on the needs, strengths and abilities, preferences/expectations and goals of each person being provided care, treatment or services is a core accreditation requirement. “Boiler plate” plans that repeat over and over the same information for each person served will result in survey findings (unsatisfactory conformance/noncompliance with standards) and the need for correction to achieve full accreditation. Furthermore, it’s an expectation that an accredited organization actively involve the person served in identifying their needs and preferences for aftercare and, as much as possible, making choices about where, type, and by whom.

Holistic – The needs of the person in relation to various life domains, such as physical health and housing, are addressed in case management/care coordination standards (assessment of the person’s needs and assistance in meeting these identified life domain needs). Since access to routine and needed physical health care can be a challenge for those who need it, the accrediting bodies offer options for the integration/coordination of physical health care. Health Home standards have been established to facilitate successful integration of physical health care with an organization’s traditional behavioral health programs.

Culture and Respect – Accreditation standards emphasize that the person served encounters respect in all aspects of their care, treatment, or service experience and this is reflected in the organization’s policies, procedures, rules, and expectations as well as the rights and responsibilities of the person served. Standards clearly emphasize that service delivery is provided by staff in an atmosphere of respect and understanding and sensitivity to cultural values, beliefs, and preferences.

Trauma – The approach of the accrediting bodies to trauma centers around their screening and assessment, planning and delivery of services, and workforce training standards. Standards require a screening and assessment process to identify people whose lived experiences either currently and/or in the past may have included trauma(s). Also, organizations need to demonstrate that the impact of trauma on the person served is considered in the planning and delivery of care, treatment, or services.

Peer Support – Peer support services are an important component of the recovery model. These services are part of the plan of care, treatment, or services, and are provided by trained individuals who share similar lived experiences with mental health and substance use challenges. Accrediting bodies not only recognize the utilization of this type of service by mental health and substance use treatment providers, but also have developed standards addressing the integration of these services into the planning of care with the active involvement of the person served.

The accrediting bodies require written plans, policies, or procedures promoting these recovery principles to form a framework for implementation and a communication to staff and people served of the philosophy, beliefs, and values of an organization.

For more information on the recovery model and/or how accreditation can benefit your organization, visit AccreditationGuru.com.

 

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.

Performance Measurement and the Growing Need for Metrics

 

One of the central components of national accreditation is the focus on performance and quality improvement (PQI) programs. This is the process of collecting, aggregating and analyzing data to discover trends and patterns and make improvements (or expand upon achievements) where necessary. However, it is not just the accrediting bodies, but funders, licensing organizations and individual donors who are looking for data on outcomes to help demonstrate mission fulfillment.

Nonprofits are increasingly being held accountable for measuring their service outcomes. And for health and behavioral service providers, the focus on process – or fee-for-service arrangements – is obsolete: the new priority centers on positive patient results, which must be documented.

As the saying goes, “what cannot be measured, cannot be improved.”

If you have questions about how Accreditation Guru can help your organization develop a robust performance improvement process, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or Info@AccreditationGuru.com.

Is Your Organization Staying Competitive in Today’s Environment?

In today’s increasingly competitive environment, health and human service organizations often struggle to distinguish themselves. Providing high quality services is a given, but to establish your brand, you must demonstrate that you make a difference in the lives of those you serve.

Some critical factors that can help maintain your organization’s competitive edge include earning national accreditation, reporting on service outcomes (not just outputs) and recruiting and maintaining a qualified, well-trained workforce.

Accreditation

Achieving accreditation affirms that child welfare, behavioral health, employment and community service organizations meet or exceed professional-grade quality standards in service delivery. It also gives clients and other key stakeholders an appropriate tool for effectively evaluating service providers.

Organizations that earn accreditation reach beyond minimum licensing standards and make a long-term commitment to strong governance, program consistency, outcome measurements and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.

Accreditation requires organizations to undergo an objective review by an independent accrediting body. The designation signifies that agencies effectively manage their resources and enhance the quality of life of the population served.

Individuals and families increasingly regard the accredited status of an agency as an important factor when considering where to seek services.*

Performance Improvement and Reporting on Outcomes

With detailed digital data available just a few clicks away, health and human service organizations are being held accountable for measuring service outcomes – not just outputs. This new development requires the collection and analysis of relevant data to discover trends and patterns. The key is to make improvements (or expand upon achievements) where necessary.

Outputs are quantifiable data points related to the numbers of people served, frequency of home visits made, time in care and other common variables. However, outputs measure the impact that services have on the lives of those in care or treatment, including knowledge transferred, behaviors changed, improved homelife stability and other revealing and quantifiable data points.

In fact, all organizations seeking to gain and maintain accreditation are required to record and report outcome statistics as part of their performance improvement programs. Compiling performance indicators in a transparent, easy to understand manner will help service providers connect with clients, families and donors in a meaningful way and, in turn, allow them to be more competitive.

In the nonprofit arena, the relationship with donors has been forever transformed by technology and the unyielding desire for increased information that supports educated giving decisions. Providing reports on outcomes can also help non-profits tell their story and compete for hard-won donor dollars.

Qualified Workforce

Recruiting and retaining a well-trained, qualified workforce is the key to providing high quality services, reducing operational and programmatic risk, maintaining an organization’s reputation and contributing to institutional stability.

To attract talented employees, agencies should institute standardized recruiting procedures, conduct primary-source verification of education and licensure, perform background checks and review criminal history records for those individuals who work directly with vulnerable or at-risk people and develop effective onboarding processes.

In the health and human service field, top-quality employees aim to work for nationally accredited entities, an achievement that demonstrates your organization’s commitment to quality and to investing in its workforce.

It is easier to retain a qualified workforce by focusing on training, staff satisfaction, professional development and transparency. Investing in your people will foster a more stable workforce and enhance the quality of provided services – all of which helps make your organization more competitive.

Summary

Implementing steps to retain your organization’s competitive edge takes time and effort, but think about the alternatives: If you neglect the opportunity to continually improve, your reputation will ultimately suffer.

Earning national accreditation provides a framework for improving operations, measuring and reporting on outcomes, recruiting and supporting employees and providing quality services – which help maintain your organization’s competitiveness in an ever-changing environment.

For assistance preparing for national accreditation, or with any of the items mentioned in this article, please contact us at Info@AccreditationGuru.com.

* See our article on using accreditation as a marketing tool for more information.

Team Member Highlight – Tracy Collander

Tracy Collander

Tracy first became familiar with the accreditation world when she began working for Gateway Foundation in 2007.  Gateway Foundation is accredited by The Joint Commission, and she became familiar with TJC behavioral health accreditation during her 6 years as executive director for Gateway Aurora.

Her knowledge of accreditation became much stronger as she became Executive Director of The Joint Commissions Behavioral Health accreditation program, as she had the opportunity to work closely with the accreditation team, behavioral healthcare leaders, and advisory members.  Now that she is back in the field, she continues to value accreditation as a road map to leading a safe, high quality organization.  She believes this is critical for engaging a team that is invested in providing the best care possible to people in need.  Her Joint Commission experience has been so valuable to her as a leader – it reinforces her resolve to provide the best possible leadership to her team in support of the care that people deserve to receive.

She enjoys spending time with her two teenage boys, husband, and dog.  Her boys are both involved in sports, so much of their free time is spent cheering on their baseball/basketball teams locally or on the road.  When at home, they love watching movies together or hanging out with friends.

She also enjoys outdoor activities – gardening, walking her dog, running, golfing…boating when they have a chance to get to a lake… hiking when she visits her brother in Oregon or sister in Arizona…and skiing when it snows in the Midwest or when they travel to visit her siblings.  Both her husband and Tracy are from big families, so there is often a birthday, holiday, or other event to celebrate as well!

When she has downtime, she loves to read (or listen to books on Audible when driving), particularly suspense books, historical fiction novels, and leadership books.

We are happy to have Tracy on the Accreditation Guru team!

Are You Measuring Your Service Outcomes? You Should Be!

According to a recent study in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care, “what cannot be measured, cannot be improved.”

With detailed digital data available just a few clicks away, non-profits are being held accountable for measuring their service outcomes. In fact, all organizations seeking to gain and maintain accreditation are required to record and report outcome statistics as part of their performance improvement programs.

For example, while The Joint Commission has always required organizations to assess outcomes of care, treatment or services, organizations are now required to accomplish this through the use of a standardized tool or instrument.  By utilizing “measurement-based care,” The Joint Commission “believes these standards enhancements will help accredited customers meet the growing demand to demonstrate the value of their services and increase the quality of the care, treatment, or services they provide.”

For health and behavioral service providers, the focus on process – or fee-for-service arrangements – is obsolete: the new priority centers on positive patient results, which must be documented.

This approach rejects fee-for-service reimbursement, where “individual providers are incentivized to order more tests and procedures and manage more patients in order to get paid more, regardless of patient outcomes,” according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Value- and performance-based models aim to rein in ballooning costs. The outcome-based orientation is partially designed to help lower spending.

Another broad goal is to improve care and help patients efficiently navigate the health care system. Collaboration and customized services are replacing the top-down model, where experts determine the procedures and patients follow along.

Many major insurance companies are reorienting their reimbursement schedule to reflect this data-driven model. According to national accrediting body CARF, Cigna, Aetna and U. S. Healthcare plan to increase value-based payments to as much as 90 percent of all reimbursement spending in the next few years.

Beyond private insurance companies, state and federal mandates are also pushing patient care toward outcome-based services.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has begun implementing value-based changes, for example. Under Section 223 of the federal Protecting Access to Medicare Act, moreover, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration initiated a pilot program in eight states to introduce value-based outcomes in certified community behavioral health clinics.

The program includes technical specifications and data-reporting templates requiring the collection of 21 measurable data points.

Participating states are mandated to “collect and report on encounter, clinical outcomes, and quality improvement data,” according to CMS. “The statute also requires annual reporting by the states that will entail collection of data which can be used to assess the impact of the demonstration program.”

In addition, fee-for-service reimbursement is being replaced by the prospective payment system (PPS), which is based on the quality of care rather than services provided.

Another new initiative implemented by CMS, Bundled Payments for Care Improvement, links “payments for the multiple services beneficiaries receive during an episode of care.” Acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health care agencies and inpatient rehabilitation facilities, “enter into payment arrangements that include financial and performance accountability for episodes of care.”

CARF reports that state regulators are also spurring the shift toward performance-based models and criteria by promoting prevention and methods that consider social determinants of heath.

“The future is undoubtedly in favor of providers that can implement strong performance management practices,” according to CARF. Agencies that reorient their practices in this new direction will be well-positioned to achieve and maintain accreditation status.

Contact Accreditation Guru to help put your organization on course to thrive in this brave new world of outcome-based measurement.