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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 professionals.

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 Care?

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 decision 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.