Accreditation – Key to a Home Health Agency’s Success

The home health market is growing rapidly due to the millions of people who are reaching the age where some type of homecare is necessary.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the homecare market will add approximately 1.3 million jobs by 2020, representing a 69 percent growth rate.  If you are thinking of starting a home health agency in this booming industry accreditation is key.

In order to become accredited, certain predetermined criteria and standards regarding operations, patient care, employee training and safety must be met first.  Accreditation is a many step process that is conducted by different accrediting agencies.  Accreditation professionals review an agency’s organizational structure along with its policies and procedures.  They will ensure compliance not only with state, federal and local laws, but also with patient rights and responsibilities.  Furthermore, they will review the fiscal soundness of an agency, management of its employees, delivery of patient care, safety of patients and staff, and much more.

Accreditation is conducted by different agencies.  Below are details about a few of these accrediting organizations:

Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC)

Started in 1986, the ACHC is a national, non-profit organization that offers voluntary accreditation programs for different types of providers, including home health and hospice agencies.  Further information can be located at: http://www.achc.org.

Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP)

Founded in 1965, CHAP is the oldest community-based accreditation program and accrediting body in the nation.  It has “deeming” authority granted by CMS to decide whether a home health agency meets their quality standards and the Medicare Conditions of Participation.  Further information can be located at www.chapinc.org.

The Joint Commission (TJC)

The largest, independent, and not-for-profit healthcare accrediting organization, which was founded in 1951.  Currently, it evaluates and accredits nearly 21,000 healthcare organizations in the United States.  A home health agency must undergo an on-site survey by the Joint Commission survey team at least every three years in order to earn and maintain the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval®.  Further information can be located at http://www.jointcommission.org/.

Benefits of Accreditation

The accreditation process may bring with it extra oversight, but it also offers many benefits once it is achieved.  Below are just some of the reasons why an agency should become an accredited business:

  • Operations are more efficient and effective.
  • The number of incidents are reduced.
  • Credibility with CMS, HMOs, third party payers, insurance companies and prospective patients is improved.
  • A competitive edge and marketing advantage is provided.
  • The level of customer trust is elevated.
  • An agency will be up-to-date on the latest home health regulations.

We know achieving accreditation can be overwhelming for a new agency.  Sharon Litwin, founder and principal of 5 Star, was a surveyor for CHAP and ACHC previously, and many of our consultants are former or current surveyors.  Our team of experts have helped many home health agencies to not only receive their accreditation initially, but to maintain it for many years to come.  Our seasoned team welcomes the opportunity to put their accreditation expertise to work for you!  Contact us today for further details.

Sources:  Accreditation Commission for Healthcare website, Community Health Accreditation Program website, and Joint Commission website.

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