Accreditation Before, During, and After COVID: Benefits of CQI-Based Accreditation Programs in Preparing for and Managing Threats

Accreditation Before, During, and After COVID: Benefits of CQI-Based Accreditation Programs in Preparing for and Managing Threats

Elizabeth Ziemba
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/JHMS.2021010106
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Nationally and/or internationally accredited hospitals, in general, had standards in place to address the challenges presented by COVID-19 including infection control and prevention, clinical outcomes, quality of care, patient safety, risk management, and patient satisfaction. The pandemic presents healthcare providers with enormous challenges, some of which were or could have been ameliorated by accreditation standards. Responding to the pandemic and extracting lessons learned will impact the delivery of healthcare services in the future. Healthcare systems and providers have six distinct opportunities to shape a better future: faster learning, the value of standards, protecting the workforce, virtual care, preparedness for threats, and addressing inequity. Accreditation organizations will continue to contribute to improving quality of care during and post-pandemic by providing standards to improve access to and the delivery of healthcare services in the future.
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In general, accreditation “offers clients an independent third-party review of an organization’s systems and processes to verify that those systems and processes deliver a quality of clinical care at levels consistent with best practices” (Ziemba, E. 2019).

Accreditation programs have been created by local, regional, and national governmental entities as well as non-profit and for-profit private sector national and international organizations. These programs are based upon “standards” which define how the highest quality of health delivery of services can and should be provided. Standards typically are based upon national and/or international best practices, research from credible organizations, and practical experience of individuals who are experts in various disciplines.

Healthcare accreditation programs for hospitals, clinics, and other service providers may voluntarily be accredited by the International External Evaluation Association (IEEA), an offshoot of the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua). IEEA is considered the “accreditor of accreditation programs” with its seal representing the highest of quality standards.

ISQua’s governing principles which, by extension, apply to IEEA, include a defined process for the preparation and measurement of standards; the organizational capacity to apply the standards; measures to ensure the safety of patients and employees; risk assessments are carried out; ensuring the continuity of care is through a patient/service user-oriented approach; regular monitoring of services provided; and evaluation and improvement of the systems and process. These basic principles are an excellent starting point for universal adoption to improve healthcare services globally.

The principles of IEEA accreditation closely mirrors the philosophy of CQI and other similar programs such as Lean Management, Kaizen, etc. (collectively referred to as “CQI”). The CQI process is very simply a four-part virtuous cycle of Plan – Do – Study – Act. It does require a strong leadership team committed to these principles to ensure that systems and protocols are built into the fabric of each organization. The standards themselves are guideposts to excellence based on the CQI model. Effective leadership maximizes the potential of standards combined with a robust CQI approach to create pathways to better and better systems and practices.

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