President's Message: Take Your Practice to the Next Level, with Accreditation

One of my favorite, non-audiology magazines is Real Simple. My practice subscribes to the publication and, if my patients haven’t taken the latest edition for all of the great content, I take it home when the newest issue arrives. On a recent trip for work, I was awed by an article reviewing and recommending some space-saving (space-making) gear to optimize and improve my travel experience. Upon arriving to my destination, and without thinking twice about the decision, I ordered the toiletry bag.

My intuition tells me that Real Simple is this generation’s version of Good Housekeeping. Even if you haven’t read the magazines, you have likely seen articles ranking best products, top 10 items, and most popular services. Since 1909, the Good Housekeeping seal of approval has been an iconic measure of product quality. Good Housekeeping bestows, and Real Simple infers, its seal of approval on a range of high-quality products. As a consumer, I value those endorsements and – if I don’t purchase the item or service immediately – they routinely end up on my wish lists, go-to experiences, and become places that I routinely shop.

The definition of certification according to BusinessDictionary.com is a “Formal procedure by which an accredited or authorized person or agency assesses and verifies (and attests in writing by issuing a certificate) the attributes, characteristics, quality, qualification, or stats of individuals or organizations, goods or services, procedures or processes, or events or situations, in accordance with established requirements or standards.”1 Within medicine, Board Certification is the “seal of approval” for individuals. Doctors use the certification in advertising and marketing, and patients can use it to compare providers.

The profession of audiology has followed medicine and the American Academy of Audiology offers certification for individuals through several specialty topics, including pediatrics, cochlear implants, and clinical preceptor. Those presenting with the knowledge and expertise in these areas, after passing a thorough examination, can proudly display their earned “seal of approval” (e.g. PASC). By marketing an individual’s certification, prospective patients can be assured that an individual has met a higher standard of training and continues to update their talents with continued education of evidenced-based best-practices, thus setting him/herself apart from other individual providers in the area.

Accreditation mimics the role of certification on a business level. The most recognized accreditation in healthcare is The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations). The Joint Commission notes many benefits of accreditation, including, but not limited to:
  • Helps organize and strengthen patient safety efforts,
  • Strengthens community confidence in the quality and safety of care,
  • Provides a competitive edge in the marketplace,
  • Provides a customized, intensive review, and
  • Provides practical tools to strengthen or maintain performance excellence.2
Businesses set themselves apart from other businesses by becoming accredited. Business accreditation often requires a company to complete an in-depth review of policies, procedures, and securities and show daily implementation in each category. It also assures a prospective consumer of the business that the company is transparent financially, abides by best-practices, and utilizes other professionals (e.g. a Certified Public Accountant) to complete tasks that are not within the scope of the accredited business. Similar to certification, accreditation elevates the business and can indicate that approaching consumers can have confidence in their choice of a business partnership. Accreditation can also inspire a business to excel in providing safe, effective, and high-quality services.

A 2011 article concluded that accredited programs improve the process of care provided by healthcare services.3 Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ website first recommendation to patients is to determine whether or not a hospital is accredited.4 Accreditation may play a role in patients’ decisions to visit one practice rather than another.

Keeping true with ADA’s mission of ‘Advancement of practitioner excellence, high ethical standards, professional autonomy, and sound business practices in the provision of quality audiologic care’ and with the most recent strategic plan (2016), ADA is announcing a new practice accreditation. A dedicated team of diverse professionals have been working on creating this new “seal of approval”. With the team and your Board of Directors’ enthusiasm, ADA’s practice accreditation is set to be introduced this summer, with the pilot-accredited practices being recognized at AuDaCITY, October 22-24, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Watch for more information about the accreditation process in the near future.

Accreditation is good for patients, for your practice, and for the profession. Follow in the footsteps of Good Housekeeping and Real Simple: demonstrate to your current and future patients that your business stands out from the competitors in your area by obtaining ADA practice accreditation.    
References
1 http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/certification.html
2 https://www.jointcommission.org/accreditation/accreditation_main.aspx
3 Alkhenizan & Shaw (2011). Impact of Accreditation on the Quality of Healthcare Services: a Systemic Review of the Literature. Annual of Saudi Med, 31(4), 407-416. Viewed [February 18, 2018] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3156520/.
4 https://archive.ahrq.gov/consumer/qnt/qnthosp.htm