Build­ing re­la­tion­ships key to bet­ter out­comes

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT - By Dr. W. Pa­trick Davey

The shift of health­care de­liv­ery from in­pa­tient to out­pa­tient set­tings con­tin­ues at a rapid pace, al­low­ing peo­ple to ad­dress their needs through prac­ti­tion­ers and places never imag­ined 10 years ago. Con­sumers to­day also are more ac­tive in the health­care de­ci­sion­mak­ing process, seek­ing in­for­ma­tion and al­ter­na­tives re­lated to treat­ment and pay­ment op­tions.

Th­ese changes un­der­score the value of ac­cred­i­ta­tion, a pow­er­ful way an or­ga­ni­za­tion can demon­strate its com­mit­ment to qual­ity care via a process that strength­ens re­la­tion­ships with staff and recom­mits teams to prac­tices that de­liver su­pe­rior out­comes. This year, the Ac­cred­i­ta­tion As­so­ci­a­tion for Am­bu­la­tory Health Care marks its 35th an­niver­sary, a tes­ta­ment to the ed­u­ca­tional, mo­ti­va­tional and trans­for­ma­tive in­flu­ence re­la­tion­ships can have on health­care de­liv­ery. The AAAHC ac­cred­its more than 20 types of fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing am­bu­la­tory surgery cen­ters, univer­sity health cen­ters, med­i­cal homes, re­tail clin­ics and ur­gent-care cen­ters.

Ac­cred­i­ta­tion comes in many forms. Ideally, a sur­veyor vis­its a site in per­son to bet­ter con­nect to fa­cil­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tives and help them un­der­stand how meet­ing stan­dards will de­liver the qual­ity care pa­tients ex­pect. An on­line or vir­tual sur­vey has limited reach into an or­ga­ni­za­tion, and an im­per­sonal screen can make stan­dards dif­fi­cult to fully re­late to or ap­pre­ci­ate. When con­ducted in per­son, sur­veys be­come tools to edu- cate and mo­ti­vate.

Ac­cred­i­ta­tion also works best when con­ducted by health­care peers who bring a com­mit­ment and pas­sion to their roles—fel­low physi­cians, nurses, ad­min­is­tra­tors and oth­ers in the field who un­der­went rig­or­ous train­ing and men­tor­ing. In the role of sur­veyor, th­ese ex­perts use their knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to change the tone of an ac­cred­i­ta­tion process and pro­mote broader in­volve­ment from the ac­cred­ited or­ga­ni­za­tion’s staff. A good sur­veyor not only teaches but lis­tens—a mindset that al­lows the sur­veyor to help each or­ga­ni­za­tion de­cide how to bet­ter meet stan­dards.

An ac­cred­i­ta­tion model built on a per­sonal, con­sul­ta­tive sur­vey process can in­crease ef­fi­cien­cies and im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion among staff, pa­tients and providers—ul­ti­mately lead­ing to im­proved out­comes. No mat­ter what gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions ex­ist, how health­care is funded or where it takes place, medicine is about peo­ple car­ing for peo­ple. It’s all about re­la­tion­ships.

Dr. W. Pa­trick Davey is board chair­man of the Ac­cred­i­ta­tion As­so­ci­a­tion for Am­bu­la­tory Health Care.

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