Providers take accreditation deadline seriously

Sunday, January 25, 2009

YARMOUTH, Maine - Applications poured into accrediting organizations last week, and it could be even busier as the Jan. 31 deadline draws near, sources say.

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

Jan. 31 is not a hard-and-fast date, but CMS has encouraged providers to submit their applications by then. Doing so will ensure that providers have enough time to complete the accreditation 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, 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 every where," 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."

The approved accrediting organizations are:

The Joint Commission (JC)

National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)

Board of Certification/Accreditation International (BOC)

The Compliance Team

American Board for Certification in Orthotics & Prosthetics (ABC)

The National Board of Accreditation for Orthotic Suppliers (NBAOS)

Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)

Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP)

HealthCare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA)

Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC)