For healthcare facilities, proper accreditation is now more important than ever. It’s what helps to ensure you’re providing the best level of patient care and safety — and fire protection is a huge part of that! Accreditation is now so important that it’s something many healthcare professionals look for in a place they’re considering working at, and something many patients look for in a place they’re considering receiving care at.
In past blogs, we’ve discussed a few of the most common healthcare accrediting agencies: Det Norske Veritas, Inc. (DNV), Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP), and The Joint Commission. But in the past few years, there’s been a change to one of these agencies. As of October 2020, HFAP has merged with another accreditation agency, Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc. (ACHC). We’ll discuss more details about the merger and what it means for your healthcare facility below.
Before the merger, HFAP and ACHC were separate accrediting organizations. While they both had deeming authority from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), they each oversaw different types of healthcare facilities and enforced different guidelines and regulations. We’ll outline some key aspects of each of them below.
Founded in 1945, HFAP is our nation’s original healthcare accreditation organization. Focusing on healthcare facilities like hospitals, laboratories, and ambulatory surgery centers, HFAP’s mission is to advance high-quality patient care and safety through the objective application of recognized standards.
There are three categories of HFAP accreditation: full accreditation, interim accreditation, and denial. HFAP performs on-site surveys of healthcare facilities once every three years, completing surveys focused on patient-centered processes and educationally focused reviews that offer recommendations for corrective actions.
ACHC was founded over 30 years ago. Since its inception, it has received deeming authority for home health, hospice, renal dialysis, home infusion therapy, and DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics/Orthotics & Supplies). ACHC is focused on providing a streamlined, clearcut accreditation process for providers and on improving the quality of customer service and patient care in healthcare facilities.
Healthcare facilities can gain ACHC accreditation through a comprehensive review of their organization, then an in-depth interview and survey conducted by a team of customer care specialists, account advisors, surveyors, clinical staff, and regulatory specialists. Then, similar to HFAP, ACHC performs on-site surveys of healthcare facilities every three years to ensure they’re keeping up with accreditation standards.
In October 2020, ACHC and HFAP merged to become one entity, allowing for a broadening range of knowledge, programs, and services. HFAP now operates as a branch under ACHC, functioning similarly and holding deeming authority for similar services as before. It’s the first time two accrediting healthcare agencies have merged.
Representatives from both ACHC and HFAP believed that this merger would help streamline accreditation processes and provide a larger range of services to healthcare facilities — and, so far, they’ve been proven right. Especially during the era of COVID-19, this streamlined process has helped many healthcare facilities maintain accreditation and high levels of quality patient care.
To read ACHC’s full press release about the merger, click here.
As someone who oversees a healthcare facility accredited by one of these agencies, you may be worried about how this will affect your processes and protocols. But here’s the good news: since HFAP is still operating similarly as before and is its own branch of ACHC, not much has changed in terms of each one’s accreditation process. The merger doesn’t affect accreditation cycles for either ACHC or HFAP customers.
So, if you’re coming up on your next HFAP or ACHC survey, things should go similarly to how they have in years past. However, it’s important to be aware of this merger and to note that some processes may be changed for streamlined services in the future. This is all in an effort to make the accreditation process easier for you, so you can focus on providing the best patient care possible.
Whether you’re hoping to transition to ACHC accreditation, preparing for an upcoming ACHC survey, or have a question about the ACHC-HFAP merger, Vanguard Fire and Security Systems can help. As experts in a variety of accreditation agencies and their unique standards, we can help ensure your healthcare facility’s fire protection system is in full compliance. Contact us online today.