What Are The Options?: Accreditation Alternatives Offer More Options for Hospitals

The Joint Commission has been accrediting hospitals for more than 50 years. But now, hospitals and other healthcare organizations have more accreditation options.

In the past, the Joint Commission and, to a lesser degree, the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP), were the primary accreditation programs authorized by the CMS to survey hospitals on CMS Conditions of Participation. Then, in October 2008, the CMS granted deeming authority to Det Norske Veritas Healthcare, Inc. (DNV), also known as the National Integrated Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations (NIAHO), making it the third CMS-approved accrediting program in the United States.

These three organizations provide voluntary accreditation to help hospitals address quality control issues.

Stephanie Bennett, Clinical Editor at Elsevier/MC Strategies, explains, “Voluntary accreditation helps hospitals demonstrate commitment to high-quality performance, which benefits patients and healthcare professionals alike. With new players offering more flexibility, hospitals now have opportunities to tailor their quality systems and develop programs focused on specific needs.”

Here is some more information on the accrediting programs…

The Joint Commission

Until recently, The Joint Commission has been viewed as the only program with an established identity and reputation, accrediting 91% of U.S. hospitals. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 16,000 U.S. healthcare organizations and conducts unannounced surveys at randomly selected hospitals every year.

According to The Joint Commission, the advantages of being commission-accredited include better risk management and risk reduction, the provision of education on best practices to improve business operations, and improved staff recruitment and development. Some insurers look for commission accreditation. Accreditation costs range from $1,780 to $36,845, depending on the hospital’s size and complexity of services.

Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP)

Although a smaller player in hospital accreditation, HFAP has held CMS deeming authority for more than 30 years. HFAP currently accredits about 220 U.S. hospitals.

HFAP’s accreditation is recognized by federal and state governments, insurance carriers, and managed care organizations. Its accreditation requirements are made up of CMS Conditions of Participation and additional Quality Standards, so compliance with its requirements helps ensure a facility’s compliance with CMS.

In addition to holding deeming authority for acute care hospitals, HFAP is authorized to survey hospital laboratories and has developed accreditation standards for ambulatory care or surgery centers and for mental health, substance abuse, and physical rehabilitation medical facilities.

Det Norske Veritas Healthcare, Inc. (DNV) 

DNV is the newest CMS-approved accreditation program. Based in Oslo, Norway, DNV is the world’s leading certification body, offering the latest in management systems certification services.

With a global reputation, DNV promises to help its customers improve quality and risk management and sustain quality performance. According to DNV, its accreditation services are unique because it uses the hospital’s own practices as the basis for written policies and procedures, so hospital administrators can determine areas of focus and write individualized action plans. The organization has 27 hospitals in 22 states participating in its accreditation program. It is working to build its reputation and gain support from insurers.

DNV performs annual surveys and is the only program to integrate ISO 9001 quality management standards into hospital accreditation. According to DNV, hospitals that establish quality management systems reduce costs and improve work flow management and healthcare outcomes. With DNV’s guidance, healthcare organizations can simultaneously fulfill national accreditation obligations and achieve ISO 9001 certification. ISO certification is voluntary, but can cost up to $3,000 in processing fees. DNV’s yearly accreditation costs are similar to those of The Joint Commission, which are assessed over a 3-year period.

To learn more about voluntary accreditation procedures, take a look at The Joint Commission/OSHA Compliance online course or call 800-999-6274. 


DerGurahian J. DNV setting new standard. Modern Healthcare. October 27, 2008: 2–4.

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