A signpost shows the major regulators and accreditors for credentialing

What saves thousands of lives, continuously improves healthcare for millions, sets the standards for medical and dental organizations to provide high-quality care, and manages the most widely used performance measurement tool in all of healthcare?

Perhaps you guessed The Joint Commission, DNV GL, NCQA, or maybe even AAAHC, URAC, or CARF. Your immediate response likely depends on what type of facility you work in (group practice, hospital, CVO, ambulatory site, behavioral health office, etc.) and the population it serves.

It’s a trick question… because the answer is a mashup of claims from all six aforementioned accreditation bodies.

Keeping us honest

Accreditation in healthcare is big business —although five of the six are non-profits, DNV being the exception. TJC is by far the largest surveyor, citing that of the approximately 77% of U.S. hospitals that are accredited (by any body), TJC accredits 88% of them.

In today’s heavily regulated healthcare environment, patients want to know that their caregivers not only follow industry regulations but that the organizations that employ, contract, or affiliate with them are committed to achieving or even exceeding the highest quality standards. And, healthcare entities most likely can’t get the reimbursement funds they count on receiving to stay operational without demonstrating the achievement of accreditation/reaccreditation.

Lending a certain distinction

Accreditation can be a distinction that separates one entity from another in a highly competitive healthcare market, and it can be the catalyst that forces an organization to attend to areas where it needs to improve, be it compliance with standards and regulations, transparency of product and provider information, cost containment, or overall performance improvement efforts.

Among the six accreditors covered here, they collectively touch pretty much every party affected by healthcare—consumers, purchasers, suppliers, healthcare providers, and researchers—as they track, measure, compare, and accredit all types of organizations.

Above and beyond

Accreditation, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Most offer slightly less difficult to achieve add-on certification programs, “distinctions,” and “recognitions.” For example, there’s even a certification as a Patient-Centered Medical Home Content Expert (for an individual) and a Patient-Centered Specialty Practice certification (achievable by an organization).

Most credentialing and PE professionals reading this are likely aware of the larger and more well-known accreditors in our sample group. Here, we provide a comparison chart that guides to the accreditation guides that strive to lead us all into a safer, higher-quality healthcare future.