Ensuring quality and patient safety are critical components for high-quality healthcare. While it is standard practice in many medical fields to maintain accreditation in order to benchmark success, it is not always a regulated requirement. However, the value of accreditation should be embraced and evaluated to make sure your facility is implementing the correct practices to maximize patient outcomes.
In its most basic form, accreditation is a third-party evaluation of how an organization is performing within their field. It is more accurately portrayed as recognition that an organization is meeting national standards for the highest quality, safety, and care provided. In addition to setting standards, ACHC Program Director, Tim Safley describes how “accreditation is used by many third-party payers, for example, Medicaid, to validate what is going on in companies that they contract with.” While this may be old news to hospitals and pharmacies, the world of dentistry is just beginning to promote the process of accreditation.
As more dental organizations are becoming accredited, this opens the door for discussion around the dental industry as a healthcare operating system. This article aims to discuss the important benefits that accreditation can bring to the healthcare system and the need for accreditation in the dental industry.
To receive accreditation, organizations must review a set of standards provided by the accrediting body, which enables them to evaluate areas for improvement and implement standards in advance of a compliance expert's on-site survey. Throughout the on-site survey process, the accreditors may select providers and staff to shadow with permission from the patients to thoroughly examine the patient experience.
The surveyors may speak to team members including dentists, hygienists, and other providers of care. Their intention is to understand how your organization is implementing the standards into your practice and provide education behind their importance and intent.
Accreditation for most organizations is not without a time limit. Most accreditors require organizations to get re-accredited every few years, so it is expected that organizations remain compliant with all new and updated regulations.
There are a wide variety of benefits from accreditation. Case study after case study demonstrates how regulatory requirements can strengthen processes and patient care while also identifying gaps in compliance. These benefits branch across many different fields of healthcare and are even present in the world of dentistry.
For example, ambulatory services have been able to strengthen referral and payor relationships by using accreditation to validate a higher quality of care. Additionally, behavioral health systems have been able to work toward standardization of care throughout various states. Home care agencies have even been able to foster greater relationships with referring partners by aligning their demonstrated quality of care.
Accreditation also establishes a minimum standard of care. This is important to ensure that patient safety is secured and that levels of care do not fall below a certain point. While these minimums are important, many accreditors like to see organizations go above and beyond that standard of care. The patient population continues to educate themselves and can now identify the difference between an accredited and non-accredited organization, allowing your practice to market this achievement and stand out amongst the competitors in your area.
Accreditation is not mandatory across all fields, as mentioned previously. In the field of dentistry, a mark of accreditation sets organizations apart whereas, in fields like pharmacies and hospitals, accreditation is, and has been a more standard practice.
While it is nice that the mark of accreditation gives some dentists an advantage over others and may encourage more dentistry organizations to become accredited, it is not nearly enough.
With many dentists providing mobile care services, it is important to ensure the quality of care. Accreditation is a risk evaluation tool as well as a standardization tool. Mobile dentistry should be held to the same standards of care and patient safety as brick-and-mortar offices.
Partnerships between accrediting bodies, dental organizations, and the healthcare community are incredibly important. For instance, if the healthcare community doesn’t trust accreditors, then the recognition is no longer validated. If the standards of the accreditors are not met by many dentistry organizations, the community may lose trust in those practices. If organizations aren’t providing quality care to their community, they may not be able to build partnerships that provide more business.
Tim Safley, stated, “Having accreditation really becomes a market differentiator. If you’re a mobile dentistry company and you have competitors in your area, competing for contracts from nursing homes or school systems… for you to be able to say, ‘I am accredited’ is an extra mark in your favor when being evaluated.”
There are many areas of the medical field that are already being accredited regularly, and dentistry is not one of them at the moment. Accreditation provides many tangible benefits for organizations and these benefits should be provided to dentistry as well. The partnerships and relationships built through accreditation can be invaluable to the relevance of the standards, the dentists and other providers delivering services, and to the community of patients.
Hopefully, this article helps you achieve a better idea about why accreditation is important for your practice. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can showcase the safety and quality of your facility, UptimeHealth supports you with a compliance-management tool that helps you organize your entire process in one convenient spot.
We’d like to thank our partners, ACHC, for providing an in-depth look into their Mobile Dentistry Accreditation Program to help us continue to educate the industry on the impact it can make internally and externally. If you would like to learn more about how UptimeHealth has partnered with ACHC, contact us today and we can help you get started on your path towards accreditation and compliance innovation.