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By Salma Jaouni Araj, CEO, HCAC Friday. May 29, 2020

Accreditation: How it supported healthcare organizations’ readiness for COVID-19! Featured

In a world where data fluctuates between showing the impact of accreditation on healthcare institutions and negating it, we, at the Health Care Accreditation Council (HCAC), were intrigued to look into whether accredited healthcare institutions in Jordan were more ready to deal with the requirements of COVID-19 or not?

HCAC is Jordan and the region’s leading quality and patient safety organization, providing services through consultation, capacity building and accreditation. During establishment, we faced scepticism on whether the accreditation approach was right for Jordan. Previously this country boasted a noteworthy medical and health sector, while compliance to regulations and patient safety standards emerged as a weakness. But now, I am proud to showcase that the accreditation approach has been able to push the bar quite high and induce continuous improvements in healthcare organizations.

 

In early 2019, HCAC looked at baseline and post accreditation data for several public, private and military hospitals vis-a-vis the HCAC hospital accreditation standards. The improvement was huge, from less than 30% compliance with standards in the baseline to more than 95% post accreditation.

 

Quality improvement is evident in hospitals that participated in the accreditation journey influencing the development of policy, programs, plans, ensuring training, requiring infrastructural attention, and changing behaviour and practice. That has no doubt led to better preparedness to respond to any emergency, internal or external, while maintaining the provision of safer care and high-quality services, despite hardships.

 

Given the world, we now live in, and the challenges brought about by the pandemic; namely, the health sector’s ability to cope, respond and be resilient, it was intriguing to look at data on accredited and non-accredited hospitals, to gauge their readiness.

 

HCAC interviewed accredited and non-accredited healthcare institutions from all sectors in Jordan, with focus on six areas: (1) emergency preparedness; (2) infection control; (3) capacity building; (4) case management; (5) communication; and, (6) laboratory services.

 

The results alluded to the positive effects on hospitals having gone through the accreditation journey and supported the collection of required data related to COVID-19.

 

Accredited hospitals were found to have:

  • well-structured Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Programs
  • stronger ability to to upgrade their disaster management plans to better manage COVID-19 cases (from triage to inpatient)
  • responsive committees that convened regularly to inform and monitor practices
  • complete policies and procedures that reference HCAC standards and support accurate and timely communication and decision making
  • trained staff on IPC, occupational safety, risk management, protocols and protocol adoption
  • emergency preparedness plans already in place to guide practices to safeguard health and uphold rights and
  • an inherent culture and internal systems for quality monitoring, including data collection, performance indicators, proper documentation of patient records and clinical data

 

Accredited hospitals reported that they were sought after for guidance and advice on how to jumpstart systems and plans; a testament that accreditation standards served as a catalyst and roadmap during the management of COVID-19.

 

Moreover, HCAC coupled the findings of the interview data with that from satisfaction surveys completed by accredited organizations. More comforting than surprising was that accreditation contributed to hospitals’ readiness and ability to adapt existing systems to respond to the influence of a pandemic.

 

Much information emerged, such as how effective collaboration and cooperation, public awareness and trust while streamlining information sharing among hospital administration as prescribed by accreditation supported flow of information and eased response, attention to patient complaints and empowerment of patients to partake in their well-being was especially important in these times, and, well-maintained laboratory services, safety measures and quality control improvements allowed for the appropriate clinical management of both pandemic and other patients.

 

Undoubtedly, the implementation of the HCAC accreditation standards supported responsive and safer care in these challenging times and beyond. Those simple basic improvements that sometimes are taken for granted have made many of our hospitals simply more ready.

 

Indeed accreditation has worked; let’s keep doing it.

 

 

Salma Jaouni Araj

Chief Executive Officer (CEO), HCAC (http://hcac.jo/en-us/)

ISQua Board Member

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