• Jackie Schletter

Accreditation Is More Than The Accolade

The first time I was asked to oversee an AAHA accreditation I was absolutely terrified! My mouth was agape as I read through standard after standard and the need for accompanying written policies and protocols the practice would be adhering to moving forward. I was absolutely on board but until the mission was accomplished I didn't really realize that the benefit was not going to be only the accolade; it was by far the journey.

This particular practice was a start up; since then I have accredited seasoned hospitals and it is by far a more challenging task. Starting with a clean slate was advantageous for creating process and protocol. No bad habits to break, no "we've always done it this way and it works". If you're a new practice owner I would highly recommend accrediting pronto. You'll be glad you did when your future new hires and current staff find themselves doing the same thing, the same way, every time!

One thing I tell owners straight away is AAHA is by no means telling you how to practice. It is your choice as to which standards you choose to adhere to, as long as you accumulate enough points to pass each section. There are however mandatory standards that must be met to even be considered for accredition; this is a good thing. Accreditation forces us to look at how we do everything; this analysis is critical for success.

I have heard from staff , "my last practice wasn't accredited but we did everything the "AAHA" way. Clearly there are a great many successful practices that are not accredited. I would however challenge that the accredited hospitals have a better likelihood to deliver consistency on all levels because they have opted in to the process. They welcome the re-accreditation as well to be sure the standards of care set in place are being upheld.

To me, the genius in the AAHA standards is that they allow for each practice to define its own brand of excellence. As you wade through each section, you can decide which standards are near and dear to your heart, and which ones you might work towards down the road. Your practice consultant and the AAHA office are amazing advocates for you and will always be at your disposal for help.

Delegate sections to your team. Hold steady meetings to discuss progress and content. Your hard work will produce a comprehenive manual that is unique to your practice, your culture, and your brand of medicine. Your team will bond, your staff tasked with oversight will interact more frequently with the team and most likely will contintue that interaction post accreditation. All involved will be more in tune with the "why's" of great medicine and service, your protocols and policies will define your "how's". You will find yourself capable of a level of consistency that impresses clients and optimizes care for your patients.

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