Choose to Get Your ASC Accredited

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Choose to Get Your ASC Accredited

ASCA’s virtual course can help in selecting the right accreditation organization

Accreditation plays a vital role in validating the ASC community’s solid reputation of performing high-quality, safe care for the communities served. The standards, guidelines and best practices encompassed in the accreditation manuals guide ASC leaders through the myriad of healthcare regulations. They help centers assess their overall compliance with standards and provide opportunities to improve, all focused on providing high-quality and safe care to patients. Achieving and maintaining accreditation is no small feat. The rigorous, time-consuming process it takes to go through and achieve accreditation is invaluable in a center’s pursuit for excellence.

Accreditation also impacts the financial viability of a center, most notably if the center wants to provide care to patients who are insured by government payers. ASCs that choose to provide care and receive reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) must meet the established CMS standards depicted in Appendix L of the State Operations Manual and be certified by the federal government. To obtain this certification, an ASC must undergo a survey conducted by a state official or, as an alternative, it can seek deemed status through one of the four accreditation organizations (AO) recognized by CMS. Some commercial payers also require Medicare certification/approval as part of their contractual relationship with the ASC; hence, the financial impact can extend beyond government payers.

A more recent trend in the ASC industry is for facilities to obtain a specialty care distinction status through various payers or through an accreditation organization. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s (BCBS) Blue Distinction Specialty Care program is an example of a national designation program that is awarded by local Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies. This program recognizes healthcare providers that demonstrate expertise in delivering quality and affordable healthcare to meet consumers’ specialty care needs. One of the BCBS specialty care programs that can be awarded to ASCs is for knee and hip replacements; however, to apply for this distinction status, the center must first be accredited.

Choosing accreditation also means choosing an AO to use. There are four national organizations that CMS has granted its coveted deeming authority designation for ASCs to select from. For these organizations to achieve deemed status from CMS, they must meet or exceed Medicare’s requirements and be able to perform a survey process that is comparable to that of the government. CMS officials randomly perform ASC site surveys alongside the AO team to validate the integrity of the AO survey process. When CMS approves an AO, they approve the AO’s program in its entirety. This means an ASC could receive a standard citation from an AO for something that might not be depicted in the ASC federal regulations. Since the standard is required by the AO and the AO’s entire program has been approved by CMS, the ASC must comply with the additional standard or requirement, which is intended to push the center forward in terms of quality and safety best practices.

The four AO options are

When choosing an AO, it is important to have a solid understanding of who they are, what they have to offer, their standards and survey process as well as cost implications. Researching the AO will help you gain a better understanding of which entity is best suited for your organization. As you begin your search, consider exploring ASCA’s virtual course “Getting to Know the ASC Accrediting Organizations.” This course streamed live earlier this month and is now available on demand. It consists of four sessions each conducted by one of the four AOs. Each session begins with an overview of the AO, providing insightful information on its history, philosophy and background. This is followed by a more in-depth discussion covering its standards. Viewing it on demand offers you the flexibility to watch at a time that best meets your needs. It also affords you the option of choosing if you want to view one or all of the course sessions, providing the momentum to begin the research process.

Accreditation can be used to distinguish your ASC in today’s competitive healthcare environment and is recognized as the gold standard by key stakeholders because it depicts a center committed to superior performance and high-quality care. Encourage your organization to push forward with accreditation by exploring accreditation options.

Becky Ziegler-Otis, CASC, an ASCA Board member, is the assistant executive director of ASC Quality Collaboration and an ASC consultant. Write her at