By Elizabeth Ziemba, JD, MPH, Director for Temos USA Regional Office and President of Medical Tourism Training, Inc.
Accreditation is a service that is widely misunderstood. As a representative of Temos International Healthcare Accreditation, I and my colleagues have heard a variety of myths, misconceptions, and unfounded rumors about what accreditation is and what it can do. Unfortunately, there are also some unethical behaviors that contribute to the confusion. It is important to separate fact from fiction.
Here are five of the most often heard and repeated fallacies about accreditation.
Myth #1: Accreditation is a fault-finding mission.
Myth: Healthcare providers can be a little afraid of accreditation, seeing it as a way to find things that are wrong. They labor under the misconception that assessors will walk through their hospitals or clinics pointing out every single thing that is wrong, real or imagined. It is perceived to be a fault-finding expedition that points fingers, lays blame, and imposes guilt on responsible parties.
Fact: Temos accreditation is a collaborative team-building process designed to guide organizations to become better at everything they do. Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), patient safety, risk management, and an excellent patient experience are the four pillars of an excellent accreditation program.
Accreditation offers the best clinical and non-clinical practices to inspire hospitals and clinics to improve their systems and processes to benefit patients, staff, and the overall organization. The self-assessment component of accreditation breaks down barriers among departments to create a cohesive approach to service delivery, improving the patient experience as well as the bottom line. Assessors offer advice, share examples, support and coach clients to a higher level of excellence.
Fact: Working with an accreditation company that is right for you dispels this and other misconceptions about accreditation and engages you and your organization in a journey of Continuous Quality Improvement.
Myth #2: Accreditation is completing a To Do check list.
Myth: “The assessors will show up with a check list of items to make sure we have everything on the list. When we prove that we have everything on the list, we will get our accreditation.”
Fact: Accreditation is a holistic approach to ensuring that the systems and processes within a clinic or hospital are integrated and functioning optimally to maximize the benefits to patients, staff, and the organization itself. A check list approach simply cannot and does not work. For example, a check list approach wants to see that the hospital has fire extinguishers. An accreditation assessor will want to know if the fire extinguishers work, if people know where they are located, who knows how to operate them, and so on.
Myth #3: Accreditation automatically leads to more patients.
Myth: “My hospital or clinic should get accreditation because I want more patients. If I put the accreditation seal on the website and at the front door, more patients will come to us for services”. A more unfortunate scenario reported to our Temos team members is that it has been stated to them by less than ethical individuals that accreditation will automatically result in more patients.
Fact: Accreditation is designed to improve the quality of clinical and nonclinical services for hospitals and clinics. Enhanced quality of services is one factor that individual patients as well as third party payors look for when selecting where to go or where to send people for healthcare. The benefits of accreditation, once measured and analyzed, can be used for marketing purposes; however, it is the responsibility of the provider to develop and market the qualities that are sought after in the marketplace.
Fact: Accreditation by itself will not automagically bring more patients to your hospital or clinic. It is one component of successful marketing that depends on a number of factors including consumer choice, your Unique Selling Proposition, and more. Accreditation is a tool, not a magic wand.
Fact: Ethical accreditation companies will never promise or represent that accreditation automatically leads to more patients.
Myth #4: Accreditation companies offer more than accreditation services.
Myth: “Accreditation bodies offer more than just accreditation like access to mailing lists, databases, insurance company contracts, and more.”
Fact: Ethical accreditation organizations do one thing and one thing only: provide independent, neutral, professional, and independent assessments of the quality of the clinical and nonclinical services provided by your organization. Period. Other services may be offered at an additional price such as consulting services to assist with compliance. These services should be identified as separate and distinct from the accreditation process.
Fact: Developing marketing and sales for your hospital or clinic is up to you, not the accreditation organization that you select. Accreditation organizations that offer “freebies” or add-ons like mailing lists, databases, or other promises are over-stepping their role as independent assessors. Clients depend on the neutrality and independence of assessors and can lose trust when offered promises that are misleading or “too good to be true”.
Fact: If you are tempted by these enticing “extra services”, you are sure to be disappointed. Reputable accreditation companies are not designed to provide other services and you will find them to be hollow offers with little or no value to your organization; however, you can be left feeling disappointed or badly used.
Fact: Temos has created the Temos Alliance which is a curated network of businesses and organizations that can offer services that may be useful to your hospital or clinic. The Alliance exists as a set of opportunities or tools for our accredited clients to use to build their networks and attract more referrals. Temos does not charge for participation in the Alliance nor does it receive compensation from any of the Alliance members. It is designed to help our clients offer better services as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility.
Myth #5: We are already doing things well and do not need accreditation because we have always done it this way.
Myth: “Our hospital or clinic is already doing great and are succeeding doing what we are doing. We have always done it this way. We don’t need to change. Accreditation won’t help us.”
Fact: Healthcare services around the world are changing and evolving quickly. It is challenging to keep up with the daily demands of managing a hospital or clinic. It is the role of accreditation organizations to monitor clinical research, keep informed of new best practices, evolving trends, availability of new technology, and other aspects of the delivery of the best possible healthcare and patient services. Smart healthcare providers rely on a long-term relationship with a trusted accreditation partner to fulfill these tasks on behalf of their clients.
Fact: There is always room for improvement that can bring a variety of benefits to a healthcare organization – happier & healthier patients, engaged staff, improved revenues, enhanced reputation, and much more. If your hospital or clinic is already known for its excellence, chances are it is interested in continuing the pursuit of improving its clinical and nonclinical services. Accreditation can accelerate that process, often resulting in a stronger competitive edge. The biggest obstacle on the road to excellence is the mindset of “We have always done it this way”.
If you are standing still, then you are being left behind.
Want to learn more about accreditation? Contact Temos USA today for more information about our services:
Elizabeth Ziemba, JD, MPH, Director for Temos USA Regional Office
US Office: Tel/WhatsApp: +1 (857) 366 – 1315
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