Providers heed accreditation deadline

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Applications poured into accrediting organizations in the week leading up to the Jan. 31 deadline, sources say.

“People are taking this seriously,” said Sandra Canally, president of the Compliance Team. “They want to be taken care of in time.”

CMS had encouraged providers to submit their applications by Jan. 31 to ensure that they have enough time to complete the process by the mandatory Sept. 30 deadline.

The amount of time it takes to get accredited varies, said Sherry Hedrick, senior vice president of clinical compliance for ACHC.

“Once they submit their application to us, we truly can get them done within a couple months,” she said. “That’s for an experienced company with everything in order. If it’s their first time and they have never thought about policies and procedures, it can take longer to successfully complete the entire process.”

Even at this late date, however, there were providers unaware of accreditation requirements, said Mary Nicholas, executive director of HQAA. Others had held out hope that the rules would change.

“Waiting till the last minute puts a strain everywhere,” said Nicholas. “For the accreditors, it’s going to be a capacity issue.”

Still, Nicholas and the others were confident they could keep up with the applications. The accrediting organizations were adding surveyors and hiring additional staff to meet the demand, but, as busy as they are, they were surprised it wasn’t busier.

“I don’t think it will ever be where we think it should be,” said Canally. “We can always take more.”