Earning ASC accreditation can serve multiple purposes. By working to meet accreditation standards, ASCs are more likely to keep patients and staff safe. Accreditation is a way of demonstrating that an ASC is committed to delivering high-quality care.
When highlighted in marketing efforts or publicized on an ASC's website, accreditation can send a powerful, positive message to prospective patients, physicians, and staff. There is no federal requirement for ASC accreditation, but some states require it. There are also private insurers that require an ASC to receive accreditation before entering into managed care contracts.
While it takes tremendous work for an ASC to earn accreditation, missteps can easily jeopardize one's accreditation status. Follow these three steps to help ensure your ASC is successful during its next survey and maintains accreditation.
1. Keep Accreditation in the Spotlight
A successful accreditation survey is worthy of celebration. An independent third party has validated that your ASC is meeting high safety and quality standards. Thanks to your performance, there's a good chance that accreditation surveyors won't return to your ASC for years.
And therein lies the challenge. The completion of a survey should not mean the end of efforts to meet accreditation standards, even if you will not be surveyed for a while. If you waver in your commitment to maintaining compliance with standards, it could contribute to incidents that harm patients and/or staff and put your ASC under the microscope of regulators.
Work to make sure processes and staff efforts are always focused on meeting, if not exceeding, standards. Discuss accreditation standards frequently, such as formally at staff meetings and informally during rounds. Send out periodic emails highlighting specific standards and how your practices meet them or sharing stories from industry publications discussing best practices. During staff training, note which standards you are addressing through the education. With these and other efforts, you'll help keep accreditation front of mind year-round and help make your next accreditation survey even easier.
2. Conduct Mock Surveys
An effective way of identifying shortcomings with compliance is by conducting periodic mock accreditation surveys. During these surveys, a member of your team or an outside consultant knowledgeable in your accreditation standards simulates the survey experience. This individual(s) should observe staff practices, speak with staff members about their job rules and responsibilities, and review documentation, looking for areas for potential improvement. Following completion of the mock survey, share and discuss the results with staff and begin efforts to address concerns.
Mock surveys are often most effective when performed by someone outside of your organization as this individual is in a better position to perform an impartial assessment. It is also worthwhile to keep staff in the dark about the mock survey. This will help ensure the mock surveyor can assess the performance of staff members as if they had an actual surveyor in the ASC evaluating performance.
3. Invest in Resources to Support Compliance Efforts
Empower staff in their efforts to follow standards by investing in one or more of a variety of resources. The use of technologies, such as ASC-focused clinical documentation and analytics software, can help improve many areas of operations, including documentation, benchmarking, reporting, communications, medication reconciliation, and quality improvement studies.
Consider sending staff to local and/or national ASC meetings to learn the latest recommended practices and network with other ASCs. Allocate time (and money, if necessary) for staff to register for educational webinars. Make sure your ASC is receiving industry publications that cover current accreditation news and guidance.
The easier you can make it for staff to meet standards, the more likely it is that your ASC will be successful in its efforts to maintain accreditation.