I. What is accreditation?
Accreditation is a voluntary process through which an ambulatory
health care organization is able to measure the quality of
its services and performances against nationally recognized
standards. The accreditation process involves self-assessments
by the organization as well as a thorough review by AAAHC’s
expert surveyors who are themselves practicing health care
The accreditation certificate is a symbol to others that an organization
is committed to providing high quality care and that it has
demonstrated its commitment by measuring up to AAAHC’s
high standards. The true value of accreditation, however, lies
in the consultative and educational process that precedes the
awarding of the certificate. It is the self analysis, peer review,
and consultation that ultimately helps an organization improve
its care and services. OSC has the highest standards and is accredited
by the AAAHC.
II. What is the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health
The AAAHC is a private, not-for-profit organization that was
formed in 1979 to assist ambulatory health care organizations
in improving the quality of health care they provide to their
patients. It accomplishes this by setting standards, measuring
performances, providing consultation and education where needed,
and ultimately by awarding accreditation to those organizations
that are found to be in compliance with its standards.
III. What are the standards?
The standards, published in the accreditation handbook for ambulatory
health care, describe organizational characteristics that AAAHC
believes are essential to high-quality patient care. They relate
to such areas as quality of care and quality assurance activities,
clinical records, pharmaceutical services, environmental safety,
governance, administration and professional development.
The standards have been developed over a period of more than
20 years by individuals representing the highest levels of achievement
in clinical practice and health care management. The standards
are by definition dynamic and changing as medicine and health
care change to reflect the highest level of care.
IV. How is an organization accredited?
Before accreditation is awarded, an organization participates
in a thorough multi-step evaluation process. The basic elements
of the process are a self-assessment completed by the organization
itself and an on-site survey conducted by a team of physicians,
health care managers, and other health care professionals who
actively practice in organizations similar to those AAAHC surveys.
All surveyors are volunteers, serving without pay because they
believe in promoting ambulatory health care.
The AAAHC Board of Directors – another volunteer
group of health care professionals – render the final accreditation
based on the surveyors’ findings and other information
gathered during the survey process. Accreditation may be awarded
for either one or three years, depending on the level of compliance
with the standards.
V. Why is accreditation so important?
Ambulatory health care organizations value accreditation as a
measure of professional achievement and quality of care. They
welcome the AAAHC survey as a constructive learning experience.
And, the certificate of accreditation has become a benchmark
of quality not only to those involved in health care delivery
and management, but to the general public.
Because of the excellence of AAAHC’s standards and the
thoroughness of its survey procedures, many third-party payors
such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, commercial insurance
carriers, and government agencies recognize and accept accreditation
by AAAHC as meeting their requirements for reimbursements. Professional
liability insurance carriers acknowledge that accreditation is
a valuable indicator of quality and frequently consider it in
evaluating an organization applying for coverage. And, CHAMPAS
has been cited AAAHC as an appropriate accreditation agency.
Encouraged by such recognition, AAAHC continues to expand its
survey activities, to enhance its educational efforts, and to
refine and improve its standards and survey procedures.