American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association
Setting a New Standard for Hospital Accreditation—Together
In today’s healthcare environment, terms such as value-based, transparent, efficient, evidence-based, accountable, and cost-effective are used frequently when talking about new care delivery models and models of physician and hospital reimbursement. Within the context of this environment, accreditation is increasingly being looked to as a means of helping hospitals and physicians successfully prepare for and participate in these new models.
“Organizations that participate in accreditation confirm their commitment to quality improvement, risk mitigation, patient safety, improved efficiency, and accountability; it sends a powerful message to key decision-makers and the public. This performance measure contributes to the sustainability of the health care system,” wrote Wendy Nicklin, president and chief executive officer of Accreditation Canada, in an updated 2015 review of scholarly papers related to hospital accreditation.1
In a 2010 Presidential Advisory, the American Heart Association (AHA) identified the need, opportunity, and responsibility for the cardiovascular community to provide greater leadership in the design, development, and offering of accreditation services with the potential to provide clinical care. As stated in the Advisory by Dr Gregg C. Fonarow, “While several accreditation, recognition and certification programs exist, the program would fill an unmet need for a trusted, objective, patient-centered standard to comprehensively address cardiovascular diseases.”2
Accreditation programs are typically designed to provide hospitals and health systems with an evidence-based framework for process improvement that is intended to improve operational effectiveness and contribute to the achievement of the triple aim of improved outcomes, better care, and lower costs. Most programs are cyclic in nature and involve several phases, including assessment, implementation, and validation, which must be followed before achieving accreditation. These phases allow for gap analysis, building of teams and action plans, alignment of resources, actual rollout of improvement strategies, and measuring of success against preestablished criteria.
The benefits of accreditation are many, including improved internal communication and collaboration, strengthened effectiveness of interdisciplinary teams, risk mitigation, increased use of the latest evidence-based research and guidelines at the point of care, and enhanced patient education and engagement.1 In the cardiovascular space, accreditation services such as those offered through the AHA and, more recently, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) have united professionals from across the entire healthcare spectrum around the shared goal of improving clinical processes for the early assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular patients.
The ACC added accreditation services to its suite of cardiovascular quality improvement offerings for hospitals and other facilities earlier this year when the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care merged with the College. Over the last 18 years, the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care has accredited >1000 hospitals and other facilities to improve clinical processes for the early assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. The AHA has been raising the bar for quality cardiovascular and stroke care through accreditation and certification programs in >1200 hospitals.
The ACC and AHA have a 30-year history of working together to develop cardiovascular clinical guidelines and translate these guidelines into programs and services that shape clinical care and improve patient outcomes. In the context of these achievements and the history of working together, the ACC and AHA recently announced a new collaboration to provide US hospitals and other institutions with access to a single, comprehensive set of cardiovascular accreditation services.
Starting in January 2017, hospitals will be able to take advantage of a suite of cobranded accreditation services focused on all aspects of cardiac care, including chest pain, cardiac catheterization, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and other cardiovascular conditions. In addition to offering disease-specific accreditations, a multifaceted cardiac accreditation program will be developed by this collaborative to enable hospitals and healthcare systems to achieve the highest standard of cardiac care for all patients.
By joining forces, we can leverage our collective strengths, expertise, and resources to identify and recognize high-performing and complex cardiovascular service lines across the nation and provide unbiased, actionable, and achievable benchmarks for all hospital and clinical leaders to use as they work to raise their own standards of clinical performance. The ACC and AHA accreditation services will offer all hospitals comprehensive, state-of-the-art process improvement tools aimed at bridging gaps and integrating evidence-based science, quality initiatives, clinical best practices, and the latest ACC/AHA guidelines into cardiovascular care processes.
Our hope is that by providing hospitals with a single source for accreditation, we can ensure continuous and effective quality improvement in cardiovascular care. Given the many changes in the healthcare environment—most notably a transition in focus from volume to value—a solid healthcare system strategy is essential to achieving our shared goals of transforming care and helping people live healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases. Accreditation is an important cornerstone of any successful healthcare system strategy, and we as leaders of these organizations are excited by the unique opportunity to improve hospital productivity, patient throughput, and the quality and consistency of care. In short, we look forward to accelerating the improvement of cardiovascular care and setting the standard for cardiovascular accreditation in the United States.
Dr Chazal serves as President, American College of Cardiology. Dr Houser serves as President, American Heart Association.
Circulation is available at http://circ.ahajournals.org.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.
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