AAAHC launches quality initiatives

Assessment will become part of accreditation

Performance measurement will be linked to accreditation of physician offices, independent practice associations, and surgery centers through a new program of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) in Skokie, IL.

One major mission of the AAAHC's Institute for Quality Improvement will be the development of indicators for various ambulatory care settings. It also will provide education and research and maintain a national data clearinghouse for ambulatory care, says AAAHC executive director and CEO John Burke, PhD.

"AAAHC will work with various stakeholders, including member organizations, to determine measures or indicators to be examined at the national level," says Burke. "Accredited organizations will, over time, be expected to participate in this initiative as part of the AAAHC accreditation process. Timelines are currently being developed, but we expect participation by several specialty areas by mid-1999."

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in Oakbrook Terrace, IL, also plans to add ambulatory care facilities to its ORYX performance measurement initiative, although no time line has been set, says spokeswoman Janet McIntyre.

The AAAHC performance measurement initiative is likely to follow the ORYX model in that it will allow health care organizations to choose indicators and measurement systems that suit their needs, says Sam Romeo, MD, chairman of AAAHC's Performance Measurement Task Force.

AAAHC accredits student health clinics, physician offices, independent practice associations, and even HMOs, all with a different ambulatory care focus.

"We want to [build] it from the ground up," says Romeo, president and CEO of University Affiliates IPA in Alhambra, CA. "How do individual practitioners measure what they do in their environment against comparable and similar types of environments?"

AAAHC's institute will develop benchmarks and, eventually, protocols or guidelines, he says.