Accrediting organizations and quality improvement.Am J Manag Care. 2000 Oct; 6(10):1117-30.AJ
This paper reviews the various organizations in the United States that perform accreditation and establish standards for healthcare delivery. These agencies include the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the American Medical Accreditation Program (AMAP), the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission/Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (AAHC/URAC), and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory HealthCare (AAAHC). In addition, the Foundation for Accountability (FACCT) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) play important roles in ensuring the quality of healthcare. Each of the accrediting bodies is unique in terms of their mission, activities, compositions of their boards, and organizational histories, and each develops their own accreditation process and programs and sets their own accreditation standards. For this reason, certain accrediting organizations are better suited than others to perform accreditation for a specific area in the healthcare delivery system. The trend toward outcomes research is noted as a clear shift from the structural and process measures historically used by accrediting agencies. Accreditation has been generally viewed as a desirable process to establish standards and work toward achieving higher quality care, but it is not without limitations. Whether accrediting organizations are truly ensuring high quality healthcare across the United States is a question that remains to be answered.