In recognition of their work to offer team-focused education that improves patient care, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and VHA Inc. formerly known as the Volunteer Hospital Association Inc. (VHA) received joint accreditation status last week from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME®), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). IHI and VHA are the first two organizations to receive this joint accreditation as providers of continuing education for health care professionals.
IHI is an independent not-for-profit organization helping to lead the improvement of health care throughout the world. Founded in 1991 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, IHI aims to accelerate improvement by building the will for change, cultivating promising concepts for improving patient care, and helping health care systems put those ideas into action.
VHA Inc., based in Irving, Texas, is a national network of not-for-profit health care organizations that work together to set new levels of clinical performance, identify and implement best practices to improve operational efficiency and clinical outcomes and drive maximum savings in the supply chain arena. Formed in 1977, through its 16 regional offices, VHA serves 1,400 hospitals and more than 30,000 non-acute care providers nationwide.
The joint accreditation status is significant because it decreases the administrative burdens for continuing education providers, as they can take advantage of one unified, streamlined process rather than obtaining three different accreditations. Organizations accredited separately can also produce education for health care teams, and organizations that are awarded joint accreditation can produce education that is not team-related. In order to be eligible for joint accreditation, an organization must:
– Already be accredited by at least two of the three accreditors;
– Its mission statement must highlight health care team education; and
– 25 percent or more of its educational activities must be designed by and for health care teams.
Accredited continuing education providers must meet rigorous standards for educational quality and independence – including the ACCME Standards for Commercial SpportSM. Consequently, ACCME, the ACPE and the ANCC hope that the joint accreditation initiative will assure the public that health care teams receive education that is designed to be:
– Free from commercial bias
– Based on valid content; and
– Effective in improving the quality and safety of care delivered by the team.
The goals of this initiative are supported by the new health care reform law, which emphasizes the value of team-based care. Additionally, the Institute of Medicine’s seminal 2003 report, Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality, stated that health professionals need to “cooperate, communicate, and integrate care in teams to ensure that care is continuous and reliable.”
In response to the joint accreditation recognitions, Murray Kopelow, MD, ACCME Chief Executive noted, “Accredited continuing education for the health care team is a strategic asset to national quality and safety initiatives and contributes to improving health care professionals’ performance and patient care.”
Echoing his support, Peter H. Vlasses, PharmD, DSc (Hon), Executive Director of ACPE, noted that, “This joint accreditation process is a ‘win -win –win’ for providers, accrediting organizations and health care professionals.” He specifically recognized that joint accreditation will:
– Facilitate interprofessional learning and networking among health care providers
– Preserve high quality standards for educational program development; and
– Improve efficiency of accrediting organizations. We encourage other qualified providers to pursue this opportunity to support team-based, patient care.”
IHI Senior Vice President, Don Goldmann, MD, recognized the importance of their Joint Accreditation, and asserted that, “ACCME, ACPE and ANCC have been visionary leaders in recognizing the contribution of collaborative learning to today’s quality and safety challenges, especially in a health care environment where resources are not unlimited and can and must be used more efficiently and effectively.”
The concept of multiple accreditations is not new, many of the ACCME accredited organizations are accredited by multiple accrediting bodies (ACPE, ANCC…) but on different schedules for accreditation.
As projects such as the medical home and bundled payments begin to occur, and other reforms to the payment and reimbursement of medical care take effect, team-focused health care may have a larger role in attempting to reduce health care costs while improving efficiency and outcomes in the health care system. Team-focused health care has much promise, and a collaborative effort between doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health providers is often necessary in complex and chronic diseases.
As a result, emphasizing health care team education is a great goal for continuing medical education (CME) providers, especially given the projected shortage in primary care physicians, and large increase in number of patients from health care reform. While more and more patients enter into our system, and less doctors are able to offer direct treatment, team based health education will be crucial for handling this influx until more doctors are trained and educated.