The value of accreditation and the questions facilities managers should be asking are noted by GARY SMITH, chair of Quality Innovation Performance (QIP).
In the healthcare sector, ensuring that patients are receiving a safe and high quality service in a first-rate facility is absolutely crucial. Patients are increasingly demanding greater control over their own health. Understandably, they are keen to understand the extent to which they are receiving safe and high quality healthcare.
Accreditation involves an independent and objective assessment of the quality of a healthcare facility; providing transparency for patients as to the quality of the practice or service provider, which equips them with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their health.
Accreditation delivers an assurance for patients, funding bodies, the broader public and practice owners, managers and staff about safety, quality and performance. Accreditation is highly valuable as it not only provides a safety and quality benchmark, but also encourages further improvement.
Facilities managers have an important role to play in ensuring that facilities comply with the standards within their remit to help drive an ongoing culture of safety and quality.
WHAT IS ACCREDITATION?
Accreditation is the independent recognition that an organisation, program or activity meets the requirements of defined criteria or standards. To be recognised as an accredited body, service providers must demonstrate compliance to the relevant standards and a commitment to continual quality improvement.
Accreditation standards encourage service providers to monitor and continually improve the services their business delivers. Accreditation can assess a number of areas including the following:
- business facilities
- the extent to which the rights and needs of patients are being met
- learning and development measures, and
- management and operational procedures.
Accreditation standards are tailored to the relevant healthcare segment to ensure that they are appropriate, up to date and adaptable to changes in the sector.
Accreditation systems are based on four key areas:
- A process to develop rigorous and relevant standards in partnership with industry, and with patients front of mind
- An assessment of compliance with standards, usually by an independent third party organisation
- The establishment of an ongoing governance and improvement process to rectify issues and drive further value
- Support for continuous quality improvement with the aim to drive a culture of safety and quality
HOW CAN A SERVICE PROVIDER BECOME ACCREDITED?
The first step for a service provider to become accredited is to understand the unique accreditation standards for their profession. Service providers should get in touch with the relevant accreditation agency to learn more about what might be required.
IMPORTANT QUESTIONS FOR FMs TO ASK
Important questions facilities managers should ask include:
- Are the accreditation standards mandatory or voluntary?
- Are there any incentives for accreditation?
- What does the self-assessment component involve?
- What is required to demonstrate compliance?
- How often does the practice need to be accredited?
- What support or resources are on offer for accreditation?
- How can continuous quality improvement be made a priority?
Driving safety and quality in healthcare is essential. Through undertaking accreditation, service providers can deliver the safety, quality and excellence that patients deserve.
Gary Smith has been an active practice manager for over 25 years, and has been actively involved in the quality and safety agenda both locally and internationally. He was on the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) National Expert Committee on Standards for General Practice for the 3rd edition standards for general practice, the After Hours Deputising Service Standards and the Standards for health service in Australian immigration detention centres were written. He assisted the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) in the implementation of their Standard in NZ General Practice. He has been a surveyor for the Australian General Practice Accreditation Ltd (AGPAL). He is an independent director of AGPAL, chair of Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) and Quality Innovation Performance Consulting (QIP-C).