Hospitals recently undergoing accreditation registered higher levels of satisfaction with the process than did hospitals in two previous studies, and they gave higher marks to the value of the accreditation survey.
However, the latest American Hospital Association study found that fewer than half of responding hospitals believe the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' survey fees are in line with the survey's value.
The third in a series of periodic evaluations by the AHA covered hospitals surveyed between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 1995. Of 333 hospitals, 53% responded.
As in previous reports issued in August and December 1995, respondents were more satisfied with the on-site survey itself than with the pre-survey process or the final accreditation report.
But when it came to stating the primary reason for going through the accreditation process, the latest batch of surveyed hospitals re-established the exercise as a means of validating and measuring quality rather than as an internal quality-improvement tool.
In the December 1995 AHA analysis, 51% of respondents said they viewed the survey as a way to improve quality, while 26% saw it as a way to validate their current level of quality to Medicare, third-party payers and others.
But in the just-released study, quality improvement dived to 15% as a reason for seeking accreditation. That's even lower than the first report in August 1995, when 25% viewed quality improvement as the main draw.
Accreditation as a validation badge rose to 52% of the April survey sample, double the percentage of the previous poll and nearly reaching the 59% of the benchmark study that started the AHA's monitoring effort in mid-1995.
That trend came as accreditation reports were showing some improvement as tools to improve quality. In the December 1995 study, only 23% of respondents were strongly satisfied with the report's identification of authentic opportunities for improvement. In the latest survey, that percentage rose to 37%.
The report's reception was hurt, however, by perceptions that it took too long in reaching the surveyed hospitals. More than 40% of respondents weren't satisfied that the report was issued within a reasonable time after the survey, compared with 24% that weren't satisfied in the first AHA evaluation.
At the bottom line, the percentage of hospitals satisfied with the value vs. fees improved to 44% in the latest survey, compared with 29% in the previous poll and 26% initially.
The AHA commissioned the periodic series of reports to monitor the performance of the JCAHO following the creation of an "action plan" for improvement of the survey process in early 1995.
The action was the culmination of a year of rising criticism from hospitals about the JCAHO's day-to-day performance and execution of surveys.