It’s true. Accreditation is everywhere!
How to determine which accrediting body is the right fit for your organization
Selecting a national accrediting body to work with is a significant undertaking. The commitment goes beyond the initial accreditation cycle and, in most cases, it continues for many more years, sometimes even decades. Because of the investment in time, money and effort involved, the selection process should not be taken lightly. Watch our video for tips on determining which accrediting body is the right fit for your organization.
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:
- Standards are updated annually – do they still fit with your current program/services?
- 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?
- 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:
- Standards – your programs and services’ fit with the current accreditation standards
- Reputation – current feedback from other accredited organizations
- 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?
- Effort – how much work will it take to switch vs. remain with your existing accreditor*
- 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?
- 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.
What does accreditation mean for human service organizations?
Why is community involvement beyond your organization so important?
Recommendations on using a consultant for the accreditation process
Is your organization considering accreditation? Here are some recommendations on ways a consultant can assist in your accreditation process.
We are happy to answer any questions on accreditation consulting that you may have. Call us at 212.209.0240 or email Jennifer Flowers
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!
Is there any way to make accreditation fun?
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
- 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
- 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.