ASAM Criteria: Paving the Path to Recovery

In the ever-evolving landscape of addiction treatment, staying abreast of the latest advancements and guidelines is paramount to ensuring the highest quality of treatment. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) stands at the forefront of this mission, providing comprehensive framework through its Criteria. This set of guidelines has become the gold standard in addiction medicine, shaping the way professionals approach assessment, treatment planning, and ongoing care.

The 6 Dimensions of Care

The ASAM’s Criteria is a dynamic and adaptable tool designed to assist healthcare professionals in providing personalized, patient-centered care for individuals struggling with addiction. The criteria encompass six dimensions, each crucial in capturing the complexity of addiction and guiding comprehensive treatment plans. In December of 2023, ASAM released its 4th Edition, which included updates to these six dimensions. They are:

  1. Intoxication, Withdrawal, and Addiction Medications
  2. Biomedical Conditions
  3. Psychiatric and Cognitive Conditions
  4. Substance Use-Related Risks
  5. Recovery Environment Interactions
  6. Person-Centered Consideration

These dimensions are used to determine which level of care is appropriate for each client. Recommendations for the level of care and treatment plans are crafted through comprehensive patient assessments, which take into account the patient’s biomedical, psychological, and social requirements.

ASAM’s Growing Popularity

The ascendancy of ASAM compliance in the realm of addiction treatment is not merely a passing trend but a paradigm shift that reflects a broader movement toward evidence-based, patient-centered care. As the prevalence of substance use disorders continues to rise, fueled by myriad social, economic, and environmental factors, the need for standardized, effective approaches to addiction treatment has never been more pressing. Against this backdrop, ASAM compliance offers a roadmap to guide both clinicians and patients towards the promise of recovery for several compelling reasons.

Standardization and Quality Assurance:

ASAM compliance establishes a standardized framework for assessing and treating individuals with substance use disorders. By adhering to these Criteria, treatment providers ensure consistency and quality across all aspects of care delivery, from assessment and diagnosis to treatment planning and discharge. This standardization promotes accountability and quality assurance, instilling confidence in patients, families, and referring professionals regarding the effectiveness and reliability of addiction treatment services.

Alignment with Evidence-Based Practices:

ASAM Criteria reflect the latest advancements in addiction medicine and behavioral healthcare. Compliance with their guidelines ensures that treatment providers are utilizing interventions and approaches that have been rigorously researched and validated for their effectiveness in addressing substance use disorders. This alignment with evidence-based practices enhances treatment outcomes and increases the likelihood of successful recovery.

Improved Communication and Collaboration:

When healthcare providers, treatment facilities, and other stakeholders involved in the continuum of care are following the same criteria, this fosters enhanced communication and collaboration. By utilizing a common language and framework for assessment and treatment planning, providers can more coordinate with one another across different levels and settings. This interdisciplinary collaboration ensures that individuals receive comprehensive, holistic care that addresses their unique needs and promotes long-term recovery.

Regulatory Requirements and Accreditation Standards:

Many regulatory agencies and accrediting bodies require compliance with ASAM Criteria as part of their licensing and accreditation standards for addiction treatment facilities. Meeting these requirements demonstrates a commitment to maintaining high standards of care and adherence to best practices in addiction treatment. Compliance with ASAM guidelines can also help treatment facilities navigate the regulatory landscape more effectively and avoid potential legal and financial risks associated with non-compliance.

Enhanced Patient-Centered Care:

These Criteria prioritize a patient-centered approach to addiction treatment, focusing on the individual’s unique needs, strengths, and preferences. By conducting comprehensive assessments and tailoring treatment plans to meet the specific needs of each patient, treatment providers can deliver more personalized and effective care that resonates with the individual’s goals and values. This patient-centered approach fosters greater engagement, empowerment, and satisfaction among those who seek treatment for substance use disorders.

 

When a treatment facility embraces the standardized framework of ASAM Criteria, they are offered a multitude of benefits. Their outcomes are improved, treatment plans are enhanced, the allocation of resources is optimized, and the decision-making of their patients becomes empowered. This is not merely a set of rules and regulations, but a path that holds transformative potential for the lives of individuals and communities affected by addiction. It represents a convergence of best practices, regulatory standards, and patient-centered principles that pave the way towards interdisciplinary cooperation and mutual support. By aligning with ASAM’s guidelines, treatment providers can enhance the quality, effectiveness, and accessibility of addiction treatment services, ultimately improving outcomes and promoting recovery for their clients.

 

If you and your organization are looking to come into alignment with ASAM’s Criteria, we can help! Accreditation Guru offers assistance by providing crosswalks of your policies and procedures to ASAM, reviewing clinical records for accurate documentation of ASAM Criteria clinical processes, and more. Click here to schedule a free Zoom consultation with us so we can further discuss your unique needs.

Get Accredited Without Breaking the Bank

Human service organizations play a crucial role in meeting the needs of vulnerable populations, and it is essential that they are well-manage and effective in their operations. One way that organizations can demonstrate their commitment to quality is by becoming nationally accredited. However, the costs associated with accreditation can be a barrier for some organizations, especially those with limited resources.

While the costs of accreditation can be significant, it is important to remember that accreditation can lead to significant organizational improvements. Accreditation helps organizations to identify areas for improvement, implement best practices, and enhance their service delivery. These improvements can translate into better outcomes for clients and greater organization efficiency, which can help to offset the costs of accreditation over time.

Read on for tips on how a human service organization may approach the costs associated with becoming nationally accredited.

Direct vs. Indirect Costs

It is important to analyze the annual costs associated with accreditation and determine whether they are feasible for the organization. This analysis should include both direct costs (such as application fees and onsite survey expenses) and indirect costs (staff time spent on accreditation-related tasks or improvements to facilities, for example). By understanding the costs associated with accreditation, organizations can develop a realistic budget and plan accordingly.

TIP: When comparing fees from different accrediting bodies, they can vary widely based on your organization’s size, breadth of programs, number of locations, budget, etc. When you have an estimate of fees from an accrediting body (AB) for your entity, it helps to divide by three if that AB has a 3-year cycle (such as CARF International or The Joint Commission) or divide by four for a 4-year cycle (COA Accreditation, for example) to better directly compare total fees.

New Program Development & Expansion

New program development / expansion may come about as a decision while conducting strategic planning, assessing needs of defined service population, staffing needs, and accessibility of services. These decisions may require additional staffing, resources, and facilities improvements, which can add to the overall cost of accreditation. However, these investments can also help organizations to better serve their communities, enhance their long-term sustainability, and ultimately lead to higher revenue.

TIP: Be sure that your leadership and board of directors have accurate and complete data to make informed decisions. It may seem like this does not need to be said, but sometimes organizations want to paint a rosy picture of how things are going. Be honest, make hard decisions when needed, and be sure that you are serving the current needs of your defined service population.

Improved Operational Efficiencies

Accreditation helps an organization use its resources more efficiently and can result in cost savings. Accreditation requirements for clear and detailed written procedures based on well thought out policies can enhance staff performance, improve outcomes, and lead to better communication with, and satisfaction for, the clients. These efficiencies can help retain staff, strengthen relationships with funding and referral sources, and aid in compliance with state or federal regulatory bodies.

TIP: States recognize the positive impact of accreditation and many offer regulatory relief from licensing / certification requirements. Check with your state licensing or certification representative for recognitions of accreditation.

Liability Insurance

Accredited service providers may be eligible for considerations on their insurance policies. The reason is that insurance carriers understand achieving accreditation leads to more robust risk management and risk mitigation efforts, a focus on health and safety, corporate compliance, and ethical business practices. This can lead to lower liability insurance costs over time, which can help offset the initial costs of accreditation.

There is a reason that the first question after the demographics (name, address) on an insurance policy application is “Licensure and Accreditations.”

TIP: You will need to inquire about considerations related to accreditation. If your broker is, for some reason, not familiar with the many benefits of national accreditation, they should be educated on it (feel free to share this article).

Grant Opportunities

Two notes about grants. First, some foundations use accreditation as a qualifier to apply for a grant, while others may use accreditation as an internal selection criteria without formally stating it as a requirement. Why? Because foundations and other funders understand the benefits and importance of earning and maintaining accreditation.

Second, there are grant opportunities out there that can help offset the costs associated with accreditation. While you may not see grants specific to accreditation, many grants will cover some aspects of accreditation and / or fund ways to improve your service programs. The following are examples of areas addressed under accreditation, and a grant related to such can be earmarked to help defray costs:

  • Technology and equipment improvements
  • Strategic planning
  • Quality management programs
  • Capacity building
  • Board development

TIP: The National Council of Nonprofits has a listing of grant research tools, including a listing of state associations of nonprofits, which provides links to state-specific grant databases and member discounts on grant research tools.  https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/running-nonprofit/fundraising-and-resource-development/grant-research-tools. Also, Candid (formerly the Foundation Center) helps nonprofits find funders to support their work through their Foundation Directory (fee-based). https://candid.org

Facilities and Office Space

In some cases, organizations may need to make improvements to their facilities or office space in order to meet accreditation standards. This may require additional funding, which should be factored into the organization’s budget and fundraising plans.

TIP: Have someone other than the Facilities Manager do a walk-through of all residential and operational facilities to review against accreditation standards early on in the process. The “fresh eyes” approach can be very helpful, whether this is conducted by a staff member or an outside consultant.

Ensure Board & Leadership Buy-in

Finally, it is crucial to ensure that the organization’s board and leadership are fully committed to the accreditation process. This includes not only providing the necessary financial resources but also actively participating in the accreditation process and ensuring that the organization meets all of the necessary standards and requirements. Board and leadership buy-in are critical to the success of accreditation, and without this support, the accreditation process may be difficult to achieve or sustain.

Keep in mind, just because you do have board and leadership buy-in does not guarantee an easy road to accreditation, but if you do NOT have this buy-in, you are fairly definite to have problems along the way.

TIP: Meet with the leadership team and board of directors when first considering accreditation to discuss the benefits, accrediting body or bodies being considered, outline the timeline and process, review costs and allow them to ask questions, all with an eye toward building the all-important buy-in.

In conclusion, the decision to pursue accreditation is a significant one for any human service organization. While the costs of accreditation can be significant, they must be weighed against the benefits of improved service delivery, reduced liability risks, and increased organizational efficiency. By carefully considering the costs and benefits of accreditation, organizations can make an informed decision about whether accreditation is the right choice for them and ensure their long-term sustainability and success.

 

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.

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.

Is Your Accrediting Body Still the Right Fit?

Your organization is not the same one it was 10 or 20 years ago (or likely even 3 years ago!). New programs/services may have been opened and staff changes have taken place. There are new requirements from payors, licensing bodies, the federal government, etc. Perhaps there has been a merger or acquisition, or new partnerships developed with other entities to ensure the continuum of care. Or, you may have directly integrated physical health care into your service delivery or begun to offer telehealth services as a result of the pandemic.

Likewise, the accrediting bodies may have changed over time:

  1. Standards are updated annually – do they still fit with your current program/services?
  2. Has there been a shift by the accrediting body to be more closely aligned with your line of business – toward behavioral health or toward child welfare, for example?
  3. Perhaps there has been a new approach to sales and marketing that could have affected customer service?

When you initially selected your accreditor, you likely considered such things as cost, reputation in the marketplace, and may have had a recommendation from another organization. (See our blog article on 10 Things to Consider When Selecting an Accrediting Body for more information.)

I’m sure that the intent was to do your research and find the best fit for a long-term relationship. However, relationships can change.

So, when do you know if it is time to look around? And, if you do, what questions should you ask?

If you are asking yourself these questions, might I suggest that you consider the following:

  1. Standards – your programs and services’ fit with the current accreditation standards
  2. Reputation – current feedback from other accredited organizations
  3. Mandates – is there a current mandate for accreditation or one on the horizon, and if so, does it specify a particular accrediting body or bodies?
  4. Effort – how much work will it take to switch vs. remain with your existing accreditor*
  5. Costs – fees always matter, but what is the true value of the accreditation process and experience and what is the cost to maintain your accreditation?
  6. Timing – how long have you been with your existing accreditor?

Note, I do not recommend making a change simply for the sake of change. However, it never hurts to look around and ask a few questions to make sure that your accrediting body is still the right fit for today and for the future of your organization.

 

*If already accredited and deciding to make a switch, it is important to focus on the similarities and differences between the two accrediting bodies’ standards and processes for the most effective use of time and resources. It is also critical to understand the different approaches and philosophies from one accrediting body to another.

To further discuss any of the above items, or if you are interested in assistance with switching from one accrediting body to another, please contact us at Info@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.

Convenient, Informative Webinars Help Answer Your Questions About Accreditation

Part of our vision at Accreditation Guru is to inform and support organizations that are seeking accreditation. As part of that mission, we were thrilled to co-host a webinar with BestNotes, a healthcare IT software and consulting firm, to explain the accreditation process to their customers.

Many different factors can prompt an organization to pursue accreditation. These drivers may come from internal decisions, such as a commitment to quality and safety, or a desire to attract high-quality employees. Others may be external, such as regulatory or reimbursement requirements.

There are many advantages to accreditation that vary depending on the organization or the accrediting body. In general, some of the biggest advantages include:

  • Improvements to quality and safety
  • Risk reductions
  • Improvements to service delivery
  • Better documentation of organizational plans, policies, and procedures
  • Creating a specific plan to go “above and beyond”

A portion of Accreditation Guru’s webinar with BestNotes examined the similarities and differences between two accrediting bodies: CARF International and The Joint Commission. We compared fee structures, accreditation timelines, the scope of accreditation, and how long it lasts. Webinar attendees were better equipped to decide which accrediting body to partner with.

We specifically focused on these two organizations because they were the most relevant to BestNotes’ customers, which primarily included behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment providers. However, Accreditation Guru has experience with a variety of other accrediting bodies.

Because BestNotes is an electronic health record (EHR) software provider, we specifically discussed how an EHR can help behavioral health organizations prepare for accreditation and maintain compliance afterward. This includes encouraging better documentation, collecting and analyzing data, and making billing more efficient.

We always recommend that behavioral health providers implementing an EHR system do so as soon as possible when pursuing accreditation. This will give staff plenty of time to learn the software and give the organization time to troubleshoot any issues. This helps the provider prepare for accreditation more effectively and reap the benefits of an effective EHR.

During this webinar, we were able to share specific, relevant insights learned from our years of experience with the accreditation process. We explained some of Accreditation Guru’s additional services, including strategic planning, board development and training, risk assessment, and project management. We concluded the webinar with a Q&A segment for all participants.

“BestNotes was happy to partner with Accreditation Guru to present this webinar to our customers,” says Jon Winther, MBA, Chief Marketing Officer at BestNotes. “A lot of our customers are behavioral health providers in their ‘startup’ stage and just beginning to explore their accreditation options. Accreditation Guru shared information tailored to their specific needs, in an easy to understand format, with plenty of time for questions at the end. Our customers really appreciated the insights and felt better prepared to pursue accreditation for their facilities.”

Accreditation Guru has hosted similar webinars with other IT companies, insurance brokers, and billing companies. In each case, our webinar is tailored to the audience, providing relevant information for their specific accreditation process.

Interested in partnering with Accreditation Guru, or co-hosting a webinar for your own customers? We’d love to talk to you about how best to answer their questions and share expertise that can guide them on their accreditation journey. To learn more, get in touch with Peggy Lavin, LCSW, Director of Behavioral Marketing at Peggy@AccreditationGuru.com today!

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.

What is Accreditation?

Accreditation is a review process to determine if human service, healthcare or educational programs demonstrate their ability to meet defined standards of quality. Once achieved, accreditation is not permanent—it is renewed periodically to ensure that quality is maintained.

Requirements differ per accrediting body, but the intent remains the same: to validate an organization’s commitment to meeting accreditation standards that result in a higher level of performance. Accreditation standards have been researched, vetted and field-tested and are updated regularly, as necessary.

Earning accreditation specifies that the organization (or specific program) is appropriately managing its resources and is continually providing the highest levels of service to its clients and stakeholders. Being accredited provides credibility and helps validate and improve the safety and quality of care an organization provides.

Organizations need to demonstrate conformance with the accrediting body’s requirements by implementing the accreditation standards and undergoing an onsite survey or, more recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual review.

For human service and healthcare organizations, the broad purposes of accreditation are to establish quality measurement criteria and to raise the level of services and professionalism within a given profession or industry (QUALITY) and to ensure services are delivered in a safe manner and in a safe environment (SAFETY).

Becoming accredited offers organizations professional recognition for meeting the highest standards in quality service delivery while providing clients with an appropriate tool for effectively evaluating service providers. Organizations that achieve accreditation have reached beyond the minimum licensing standards and made a long-term commitment to strong management, program consistency, outcome measurements and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.

Accreditation standards address such areas as:

  • Leadership and governance
  • Financial controls
  • Facilities security and safety
  • Workforce development – recruiting, hiring practices, background checks, performance appraisals, training and supervision
  • Performance measurement and improvement
  • Client rights and confidentiality
  • Program administration and service delivery

With all of the needed information in-hand during a survey, the accrediting body will determine whether accreditation has been earned and, if so, will accredit the organization accordingly.

The entire process may take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. For behavioral health and social service organizations, accreditation is valid for 3 or 4 years and there is another full survey at the end of each accreditation cycle.

While accreditation is generally a private (non-governmental), voluntary process, it is often a significant decision-making consideration by potential clients, individual donors, foundations, governmental funding agencies, and billing and private insurance companies.

Here are just a few of the businesses and nonprofits that value the benefits of maintaining accreditation within their respective industries:

  • Mental healthcare and substance use treatment facilities
  • Service providers for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Foster care and adoption agencies
  • Group homes/residential treatment for children and youth
  • Early childhood education centers and day care providers
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities
  • Medical laboratories and blood banks
  • Credit counseling agencies
  • Colleges and universities – must be accredited by one of the federally-recognized accreditors for students to be eligible for U.S. federal student aid
  • Continuing education providers
  • Museums
  • Aquariums and zoos – Accreditation from angelfish to zebras!

More often than not, many people don’t realize how often accreditation actually touches their lives. Accreditation is everywhere!

If you are ready to explore how accreditation could be a benefit to 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 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.