Position paper – Accreditation sample essay

This assignment is for a subject called: Quality Management for Health Services
Assignment 2: Position paper – Accreditation
Weighting: 20%
Length: 1000 words
“Accreditation programs for health services or facilities are not useful.” Discuss this statement with reference to specific accreditation programs. In your response substantiate your claims with reference to literature.
The assignment will be marked using the following criteria:
1. Style, organization and presentation 10% [2 marks]
2. Demonstrated understanding of principles and frameworks of accreditation 30% [6 marks]
3. Description of strengths and/or weaknesses of accreditation programs 30% [6 marks]
4. Identification of opportunities for improvements in accreditation programs 30% [6 marks].

Introduction – Accreditation is a process of certifying and approving that the services or products produced by a certain organization meet with certain standards in quality. In Australia, one of the organizations that provide accreditation for hospitals and other healthcare organizations is the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS). The main objective of this organization is to improve the quality of healthcare in Australian hospitals. ACHS is an independent organization that works for non-profit purposes and conducts reviews of the performance, quality assessments, etc, during the accreditation process.

It was formed in the year 1974, and several other organizations such as the Australian Medical Council, the Australian Healthcare Association, and the medical colleges association have approved accreditation by the ACHS. For determining the standards in the level of healthcare, a committee formed containing representatives from various sectors of the population including the general public, government, hospitals, etc. The Council members vote for the Board of Directors.

In the year 1996, the ACHS had launched a unique quality program titled Evaluation and Quality Improvement Program (EQuIP), the main aim of which was to deliver customer-oriented healthcare services to the people. A systematic external peer review process was set in place to closely monitor the program. The ACHS has about an 800-organization subscription and also acts as a consultancy to several other organizations throughout the world (ACHS, 2007).

Body – Accreditation is a means of issuing trust. Any consumer who requires healthcare services desires those healthcare services to be of good quality and ensuring safety. It can be understood that in healthcare there are certain amount of risks, which can only be reduced to a certain extent. Accreditation is one of the means by which these risks can be reduced and quality care can be ensured.

The patients should identify means by which these risks can be reduced. Through accreditation, the entire process of providing medical care is well documented, besides being fool proof. This would ensure that a process would be setup that would be based on strong evidences, ensuring better patient management. Accreditation is often determined by the healthcare and the accreditation organization in strong technical terms that have to be fulfilled (ACHS, 2007).

In the year 2006, the Australian Commission that maintained safety and quality in the healthcare sector felt accreditation standards needed to be improved. They also felt that an independent review process was needed to raise the level of adherence to quality standards in healthcare organizations in Australia. The organization felt that accreditation is a process to publicly recognize the achievements and adherence of the healthcare organizations national standards.

Accreditation should be made available to all public and private sector organizations, and at different levels including community-based, private-health setups and tertiary healthcare organizations. The accreditation organization should function independent of the organizations that it would be accrediting. This would ensure that the performance and the standards that are present in the organization are given no bias by the accrediting organization (ACHS, 2007).

Benefits of the accreditation system: –
Greater involvement of the public and the healthcare organizations
The clinicians who are responsible for providing quality care can be involved.
Improves the community confidence levels in the healthcare system
Better risk management in patient care
Better compliance with the laws (reduction in medical malpractice cases)
Patient safety standards are improved
Education of the staff members towards developing good practices
Provision of professional advice and guidance
Staff education and training
Developing strong mission statements, values and objectives for the organization
The human resource processes can be effectively handled
Compliance with the standards imposed by the regulatory bodies
Better management of insurance claims and those of third parties
Reduction in the insurance costs
Better handling of the organization and the management
Better flow of information
Better decision-making processes
Co-ordination can be improved
Building a proper evaluation system
Developing areas in which priority and attention is required (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2007 & JCAHO, 2007)

Disadvantages would also be applicable, including: –
Huge costs of accreditation which is finally passed on to the patient
Emphasis on resources such as human, support systems, etc.
The standards have to be continually updated, changing the area of concentration
Accreditation would concentrate on improving structure rather than services
Greater attention on increasing collaboration and partnership
It may be difficult to streamline the processes
Accreditation may not have an effect over the outcomes
There may be huge emphasis on competition present in the market
Need to subscribe to accreditation by more than one organization (PHF, 1997)

In the year 2007, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care gave an alternate model for accreditation of healthcare organizations. Consultation with the stakeholders helped to identify the deficiencies in the current system and to develop a better one. The idea was to apply this new alternative accreditation system across all the sectors of healthcare in a phased manner.

Characteristics of this new accreditation system: –
Implementing certain reforms
Bringing about certain standards in the Australian healthcare system
The system was to be developed in association with the stakeholders
Improve the quality standards
Improve the compliance levels with the rules in the healthcare organization
Ensure evidence-based practices
Improve the monitoring system
Support mutual recognition
Improve the participation levels
Improve the assessments levels, methods and surveys
Obligations to be imposed so that the organization adheres to the standards (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2007).

Conclusion – It can be said that the entire process of accreditation needs to be setup in such a way that emphasis is given only in improving the patient care and satisfaction. All the meaningless process and structures that do not have an effect over improving the patient care should be removed. The accreditation organization should ensure that such a system of accreditation is practically applicable by various types of healthcare organizations. Not much emphasis should be given on costs. Even organizations that are providing cost-effective care and are meeting with reasonable standards should be provided accreditation. Accreditation should also be a voluntary system and not a compulsory one. Different levels of accreditation should also be provided (PHF, 1997).


Australian Council for Healthcare Standards (2007). “About US.” [Online], Available: http://www.achs.org.au/whatwedo/, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].

Australian Council for Healthcare Standards (2007). “Mission, vision and values.” [Online], Available: http://www.achs.org.au/missionvisionvalues/, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].

Australian Council for Healthcare Standards (2007). “What accreditation means.” [Online], Available: http://www.achs.org.au/whataccredmeans/, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].

Australian Council for Healthcare Standards (2007). “ACHS Position Statements.” [Online], Available: http://www.achs.org.au/positionstatements/, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (2007). “UPDATE: Review of National Safety and Quality Accreditation Standards November 2007.” [Online], Available: http://www.safetyandquality.org/internet/safety/publishing.nsf/Content/accreditation, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (2007). “Draft: An Alternatvie Model for Safety and Qualtiy Accreditation.”

Barnes, A.M. (2001). “Healthcare Law: Desk Reference.” Ali-Aba. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=KS5xke6-DEgC&dq=accreditation+advantages+healthcare&source=gbs_summary_s&cad=0

JCAHO (2007). “Benefits of Joint Commission Accreditation.” [Online], Available: http://www.jointcommission.org/HTBAC/benefits_accreditation.htm, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].

JCAHO (2007). “PSP Fact Sheet.” [Online], Available: http://www.jcipatientsafety.org/fpdf/ICPS/PSP%20Fact%20Sheet%20with%20New%20Logo.doc, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].

Public Health Foundation (1998). “Accreditation: A Study of Issues and Characteristics Applicable to Public Health.” [Online], Available: http://www.phf.org/Reports/Accreditation1/final_report.htm, [Accessed: 2008, March 17].