Maintaining accreditation is essential for any nuclear lab and demonstrates a commitment to strict national quality standards that ultimately ensure the highest level of patient care. While not a formal requirement to operate your practice, the Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) mandates that advanced imaging providers be accredited to receive reimbursement.
Who Provides Nuclear Lab Accreditation?
Several different organizations offer nuclear lab accreditation. CMS does not require that you be accredited through a specific organization, and practices are free to choose any approved provider.
Different groups that provide nuclear cardiology lab accreditation include IAC, ACR, and RadSite. As long as the provider meets the criteria, the accreditation is valid in the eyes of CMS.
Accreditation can be a time-consuming and complicated process. The process can take months and requires regular meetings, compliant reporting, sales studies, on-site inspections, and more.
While practices can work directly with accreditation bodies independently, the requirements lead many organizations to utilize a consultant to manage part or all of the accreditation process.
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.
Third-party nuclear lab accreditation providers have a level of experience and familiarity with the process that often enables a faster, more cost-effective, and more reliable experience.
What Do Outsourced Nuclear Lab Accreditation Providers Offer?
Working with an outsourced accreditation provider offers a way to ensure that all aspects of the process are anticipated and accurately completed on time.
The outsourced accreditation provider typically handles the application process for the practice site location and reading physicians. The tasks an outsourced provider should cover include:
- Physics and Technical Evaluation: Your outsourced accreditation provider should test and certify that the cameras used at your site meet rigid physics testing, phantom testing, and quality standards.
- Staffing Certification: Providers should work with your team and certify that employees and staff maintain professional credentials and receive the necessary continuing education.
- Policy Guidance: Experts at nuclear lab accreditation should provide a set of policies and procedures that meet accreditation standards covering imaging systems, safety, quality control, HIPAA compliance, and more.
- Clinical Case Sampling: Your outsourced accreditation should provide guidance to ensure interpreting reports are compliant, image quality is monitored, and report turnaround requirements are met.
The Digirad Nuclear Lab Accreditation Process
In addition to manufacturing nuclear cameras and providing mobile diagnostic services, Digirad offers a complete nuclear lab accreditation service. Unlike other consultants, we approach the accreditation process as a partnership between our team and your practice.
The Digirad accreditation team acts as a guide to facilitate the process, help your staff meet requirements, and submits all the paperwork on behalf of your organization.
The comprehensive service provides practices with the appropriate equipment and knowledgeable staff so that your practice’s nuclear imaging can be successful for your patients and your business.
The timelines for accreditation will vary based on your practice size and requirements, but the process is typically completed within 120 days. Digirad maintains active accreditation, and by using our team, your practice is immediately covered under a “provisional umbrella” that allows you to bill with no delay.
Accreditation typically lasts three years. However, in order for your practice to maintain accreditation during this time, ongoing requirements such as quarterly quality assurance meetings are arranged to review the program.
This allows your practice and the outsourced provider, like Digirad, to work together to take steps to improve any necessary areas. The accrediting association performs at least one audit per 3-year period to maintain the highest level of service, so keep in mind that maintaining accreditation is an ongoing effort.
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.