Accrediting bodies agree to double-dose survey system

CARF, Joint Commission agree to combined surveys

Some subacute providers may be able to decrease some of the costs, documentation time, and human resources involved in the accreditation process by requesting a combined survey from the two major accrediting bodies.

As of last month, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, and CARF...the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission in Tucson, AZ, offer joint surveys for providers who request it. (The Joint Commission also announced plans to require quarterly outcomes data reporting last month. For more information, see the news brief, p. 46.)

The Minimally Integrated Survey process initially is available to freestanding subacute rehab hospitals that want to be accredited by both organizations. The two accrediting organizations have begun discussions on establishing concurrent surveys for hospital-based rehab units.

"We believe this collaborative relationship will produce new efficiencies in the accreditation process while maintaining quality oversight of rehab hospitals accredited under the CARF and Joint Commission programs," says Dennis S. O’Leary, MD, president of the Joint Commission.

If a hospital seeks accreditation from both organizations, it must file two applications and pay the customary fees from each organization.

However, surveyors from both the Joint Commission and CARF will visit the hospital at the same time and conduct some joint activities, including document reviews, the opening conference, the leadership interview, departmental interviews, visits to patient care settings, daily briefings, and the leadership exit conference.

Each accrediting body will issue its own accreditation decision based on its own standards and will compile its own survey report.

The benefit of the combined survey process will be the reduction of time, effort, and costs associated with preparing for two separate surveys.

The two organizations began discussing collaborative surveys in 1993 to reduce the burden of accreditation while capitalizing on the expertise of the two organizations, says Donald E. Galvin, PhD, president and chief executive officer of CARF.

The process was field-tested in 1996 and was highly acclaimed by the surveyors and hospitals participating, Galvin adds.

Participants in the pilot surveys helped staff from the Joint Commission and CARF develop the joint initiative.

The goal of the two organizations is to move toward a fully integrated survey in the future, which would result in direct savings to the organization, including reduced fees and survey days, says Christine MacDonell, national director of CARF’s medical rehabilitation division.

"This will take continued work between the two organizations and the involvement of organizations who have completed the process," MacDonell says.

There are 15 joint surveys scheduled so far for 1997. The two organizations will work with participants in those surveys to move to the next level of integration as soon as possible, she adds.

Approximately 185 freestanding rehabilitation hospitals are eligible for the cooperative accreditation. Most are dually accredited. Some are accredited by only one of the two bodies.

There are 43 dually accredited hospitals that are scheduled for survey in 1997. In addition, there are 13 hospitals accredited by CARF only and 36 Joint Commission-only accredited hospitals that must be surveyed this year. All are eligible for the combined survey.