Can you outsource your nuclear lab accreditation?Posted on: 12.06.18
IAC or ACR accreditation is a critical component of a quality assurance program and directly affects your reimbursements. Considered the industry’s gold standard, accreditation demonstrates adherence to strict national quality standards that ultimately ensure the highest level of patient care.
Accreditation is an ongoing process
The typical accreditation process can be completed in an average of 3 to 6 months and the designation is valid for three years. However, your practice must not only earn the accreditation, but it must also maintain it.
Accrediting associations perform at least one audit per three-year period to confirm the continued delivery of high caliber care, so keep in mind that accreditation is an ongoing effort, not a project that has a completion date.
The challenges of maintaining you nuclear lab accreditation
An effective accreditation program is one that continually allows you to evaluate your practice and successfully holds you accountable to certain standards.
There are multiple facets, reporting requirements, and analysis that, in order to gain the full benefit of the designation, need to be embraced. Much can change in a 3-year period and if your practice doesn’t make the necessary improvements until the eleventh hour, your reaccreditation might be in jeopardy.
With that said, some of the biggest obstacles practices face include the time commitment and resources needed to ensure continued compliance; monitoring continuing education completion, interpreting and implementing guidelines and regulatory changes, updating policies and procedures, running reports, reviewing case studies, and holding quality improvement meetings, are just a few examples.
The benefits of outsourcing your accreditation
Most practices do not have a seasoned employee with accreditation experience on staff and, if they do, they run the risk of their only expert leaving the practice at some future date. So, how do you ensure the successful application and proper maintenance of your accreditation?
Outsourcing the accreditation process is one way to ensure that all aspects of the process are anticipated and accurately completed in a timely manner. Digirad has two solutions for practices in need of accreditation.
By utilizing one of the Digirad Select packages, you’re able to leverage the Digirad accreditation, which lends accreditation to your practice. Digirad’s multi-location IAC accreditation service makes accrediting your lab fast, easy, and less expensive than committing to the process yourself.
For practices interested in traditional nuclear lab accreditation, Digirad offers a consulting package to assist with the initial accreditation or reaccreditation process.
Digirad’s experts have a comprehensive understanding of the accreditation process and will manage the collection, preparation, submission, and review of the completed application. With expertise in both nuclear and echo accreditation, they will simulate an inspection and help you address the findings so you’ll be well prepared for an audit.
Ongoing, they’ll initiate quarterly quality assurance meetings to review the ongoing maintenance of your accreditation program where they’ll review policies and procedures, make improvement recommendations, alert you to new or revised regulations, and measure your progress.
An investment in quality
Using a consultant can often be a costly option, but Digirad’s tiered pricing approach to accreditation makes it a more affordable option. For a small investment, your application for accreditation could be handled much more efficiently, with the insight of experts, and without unnecessary stress.
Most importantly, you’ll have a program that continually evaluates your practice and works to improve the level of care and service you provide your patients.
For more information on Digirad and the Digirad Select accreditation services, click here.
Understanding the requirements of a Quality Improvement (QI) programPosted on: 02.16.17
Maintaining a successful and accredited nuclear lab requires a consistent Quality Improvement program. However, many practices may be intimidated by what they believe to be a highly detailed and complicated process. The truth is, maintaining a successful QI program is easier and more straightforward than you think.
The accreditation process is intended to be adaptable in order to continuously accommodate medical advancement. As such, there is a lot of flexibility to enable your program to work within the parameters of your own lab, no matter what the size.
Six components of a successful Quality Improvement program
There are six components of a successful quality improvement program. Let’s look at each one and discuss them in a little more detail:
1. Test appropriateness
While there is not a specific process required to assess test appropriateness, it is important that you have a process in place that confirms the appropriateness of tests in a way that works for your particular lab. For example, a smaller lab might review all studies at the end of a week to determine whether or not the tests fit the diagnoses; a larger lab might sample a specific number or a percentage of studies each month and document as appropriate, not appropriate, or questionable. If you need more information or assistance with test appropriateness, there are tools available via the IAC website. You can also use the guidance given in the Appropriate Use Criteria guidelines.
2. Technical quality and safety of images
This component requires you to define the protocol for the use of your imaging equipment and document it daily. This could be as simple as a checklist on your daily log sheet that confirms proper camera operation prior to seeing patients each day.
3. Interpretive quality review
This checks-and-balance system continuously audits the procedures performed in your lab. It ensures that there is consistency in the data and adherence to the protocol for each study performed by each technologist. The review can be done via committee, or perhaps a process whereby doctors review a sample of each other’s reports.
4. Report timeliness and completeness
Keep accurate and complete records. The IAC offers guidelines for information that should be included in reports. At a minimum, all reports should have a final signature within 48 hours of the test completion. They should also be reviewed regularly to determine that all personnel are maintaining consistent data.
5. Correlation between tests/studies
This step can be the most problematic as it requires comparison of studies that might have been completed outside of your lab, in a hospital or another lab, for example. Establish a protocol to review and compare the correlation between the results of the various tests.
6. Semi-annual review of this data
A semi-annual review of the data is required and should include all appropriate members of your staff: physicians, technologists, and other staff, and include a detailed discussion of shortcomings and areas in which to improve. Meeting minutes are required from these reviews, and the results are required to be distributed to all team members to be used as an ongoing learning opportunity.
Documentation, maintenance, and support
One of the most important components of accreditation maintenance is consistent documentation. But it’s also critical to understand that the IAC, the ACR, and the other accreditation bureaus are there to help you maintain your accreditation. Use them as a resource, to field questions, to offer guidance, to tell you what the next steps are.
Don’t allow the fear of disclosing something you’re doing incorrectly be a what keeps you from finding out how it should be done or how it could be done more quickly or more efficiently. Yes, these governing organizations are the authorities, but they are in the business of supporting those that are already accredited and helping them meet and exceed the standards.
Changes to IAC Nuclear/PET Accreditation StandardsPosted on: 10.13.16
2017 updates: What you need to know
The Standards and Guidelines for Nuclear/PET Accreditation are instrumental in effecting the quality of patient care that the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) is committed to maintaining. As an accreditation organization, they work hard to ensure their program strikes a balance between the changing needs of the medical community as well as the general public. Periodically, the IAC standards are reviewed by the Board of Directors and revised as necessary.
On September 15, 2016, the IAC released an updated version of the IAC Standards and Guidelines for Nuclear/PET Accreditation, which will become effective on March 15, 2017.
While some of the revisions to the standards were made for purposes of clarification or explanation of previous standards, other requirements have been modified to reflect a change. The key modifications include:
- Technical Staff – The Standard previously titled nuclear medicine technologist(s) is now titled technical staff in all references.
- General Protocol Guidelines –The most significant change to the newly published Standards and Guidelines is the inclusion of administered dose ranges, which have been added to the Standards in an effort to reduce patient radiation exposure in myocardial perfusion imaging studies.
- Part D: Therapy Procedures – The majority of the new Part D section already existed in the previous Standards. In the updated version these requirements were moved to a new section for Therapy Protocols and Performance only.
For a summary of all the revisions made to the Nuclear/PET Standards, visit intersocietal.org/nuclear/standards/IACNuclearPETStandards2016_SummaryofChanges.pdf.