ITAES (Spanish acronym for Technical Institute for Healthcare Services Accreditation) is an Argentinean accrediting body. It is a non-governmental not-for-profit civil association, the oldest of its kind in Argentina.
The main task of ITAES is the accreditation of Healthcare Services in the whole country and includes hospitals, ambulatory care services, imaging diagnosis centres, clinical laboratories, chronic dialysis centres, mental care (ambulatory and in-patient services) and dental care organizations. There are different sets of standards for each type of service. These sets of standards are available for any stakeholder on ITAES’ webpage www.itaes.org.ar
. Two main lines of work have been developed since ITAES was established in 1992: accreditation programs and quality assessments programs. The quality assessment programs, which are not strictly accreditation programs, were especially suited to meet the necessities of public health administrations and financiers of health care belonging to social services.
Accreditation programs developed by ITAES are based in the traditional characteristics of the Accreditation: assessing of structures, processes and outcomes, voluntary, confidential, periodical, using standards known by assessed organizations and carried out without any relationship between assessor and assessed other than the accreditation itself. ITAES submitted papers about its programs to several ISQua’s Conferences, such as those held at Newfoundland (Canada, 1995), Jerusalem (Israel, 1996), Chicago (USA, 1997), Budapest (Hungary, 1998), Melbourne (Australia, 1999), Dublin (Ireland, 2000) and Buenos Aires (Argentina, 2001). ITAES was one of the Argentinean partners of the Buenos Aires ISQua International Conference (2001) and also one of the founders of the International Accreditation Federation, an ISQua subgroup created in 1999 to develop the former ALPHA Program, known nowadays as the International Accreditation Program.
ITAES history dates back to the early 90's when three Argentine organizations came together to develop a program of Hospital Accreditation. These organizations were the Confederation of Private Hospitals, the National Social Security Institute for Retirees and Pensioners, and the Argentine Society of Medical Audit. All of them created the Joint Commission for the Development of Health Care Quality (Spanish acronym COMCAM) that spent 2 years developing a manual for Hospital Accreditation. Unfortunately, the COMCAM was disbanded for external reasons and never assessed any hospital. Shortly thereafter, a Social Security financing body (OSDE) brought together experts who had worked in COMCAM and a series of private hospitals, thus creating ITAES as an independent accrediting body in 1993.
Since then, ITAES has accredited 171 different healthcare organisations out of 178 that were evaluated (including an Uruguayan hospital). Currently, 89 facilities hold valid Accreditation Certificates. As many organizations have been accredited more than once, there have been more than 400 on-site Accreditation assessments, 206 of them in 99 ambulatory Centres for Chronic Dialysis. Nowadays, 49% of dialysis patients in Argentina are assisted in services Accredited by ITAES. ITAES also offers coaching services for healthcare organizations as a way to prepare for Accreditation. 254 health care providers have entered in this program and more than 1100 monthly field visits have been carried out hitherto.
Six quality evaluation programs had been developed tailored to the needs of several governmental and no-governmental organizations. These programs begun in 2000 and up to now have encompassed a total of 328 healthcare organizations including 116 private for-profit hospitals, 103 ambulatory general care centres, 19 dialysis centres, 43 clinic laboratories, and 18 eye centres. Other types of organizations including imaging, physical rehabilitation, geriatric, mental health and nuclear medicine centres add other 29 organizations.
ITAES’ other activities include training of evaluators, diffusion of tools for assessing the quality of health care and the publication of the Journal of ITAES. ITAES website contains, among other information, all its Accreditation manuals and tools for self-assessment, which are of free access for all stakeholders. Since 2014 ITAES is developing a series of Practicum activities to extent the knowledge about quality in health care, accreditation and accreditation procedures among health providers.
The organization is run by a Board of Directors (BoD) elected every two years by the General Assembly among representatives of the 75 healthcare providers, financiers and other health organizations that are members of ITAES at present. The Board is composed of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and eight other members, called vocales and its main task is to implement the strategies of organisational development set by the general Assembly. A General Director assisted by a General Manager implements the decisions of the Board relating to administrative and financial aspects, relationships with the community, the government, and other stakeholders, as well as marketing and commercial issues. In parallel, a Technical Direction focuses on the development of standards, training of assessors and scheduling and coordination of all assessment and accreditation activities. A Committee on Redaction and Assessment of Standards (CRAS) was created in 2015 as part of the Action Plan following ISQua’s recommendations set as part of the accreditation procedure of ITAES’ Manual for Accreditation of Acute Care Organisations. All members of the Board, General Assembly, and CRAS are honorary. General Director, General Manager, Technical Director and working staff of technical and administrative areas hold full and part-time contracts. The assessors / surveyors are hired for each on-site assessment, subscribe confidentiality and conflict of interests statements, and must honour the Code of Ethics. The last is mandatory also for all staff and members of the Board and other areas of the organisation.