Building relationships key to better outcomes
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.