Accreditation

CIHQ forges its way as an accreditation alternative

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, February 27, 2017

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Hospitals seeking accreditation have more options than ever. The Joint Commission, DNV, and AAHHS (which acquired HFAP in 2015) are all well established, but don’t count out the Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality (CIHQ).

CIHQ was founded in 1999 as a hospital consulting company. Based in McKinney, Texas, the company still does consulting work for 330 hospitals nationwide on standards and regulation compliance. After 12 years of helping hospitals with their CMS and Joint Commission accreditation, CIHQ became an accreditor itself in 2011.

Six years later and dozens of accredited hospitals later, CIHQ is in the midst of renewing its CMS deeming status for an anticipated six years. Richard Curtis, RN, MS, HACP, is CEO of CIHQ and a nationally recognized expert on the CMS Conditions of Participation (CoP) and Certification & Survey Process.

History

CIHQ didn’t consider applying for deemed status until 2011, after noticing puzzling patterns in their hospitals compliance results. Whenever CMS would do a validation or complaint survey, he says, the outcomes would be significantly different than those The Joint Commission came up with. Eventually, CIHQ realized that the discrepancy was due to a lack of alignment between The Joint Commission and CMS. After that, it started looking for ways to solve the problem.

“We started internally, looking how we could better help our hospitals,” Curtis says. “And we had some members say, ‘Why can’t you [CIHQ] accredit us?’ They liked our process and how we did business with them. So we went back and said, ‘Well, what would it take to do this?’ ”

CIHQ called CMS to inquire about how to become a deemed accreditor, Curtis says, and the agency was surprisingly receptive of the idea. In August 2013, CIHQ was made a confirmed accreditor with a four-year license.

“It’s been very slow growth,” he notes. “I’ll be the first to admit that. It’s a hard field to break into and to get the industry to even become aware there’s another accreditor; much less switching from Joint Commission, DNV, etc. We have about 45 hospitals we’ve accredited, pick up about one each month on average. It’s slow but steady growth and we’re currently in our reapplication phase to CMS to get renewed.”

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