In an attempt to end years of uncomfortable overlap, the major accrediting bodies of the rehabilitation industry have formalized plans to offer a cooperative accreditation program.
The Joint Com-mission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has been working with CARF...The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission over the past two years to reduce duplicative on-site evaluations.
Christine MacDonell, the national director of the medical rehabilitation division of CARF, said 40% to 45% of the 2,200 medical rehabilitation programs reviewed by CARF also are reviewed by the JCAHO.
The groups' latest agreement permits the JCAHO to recognize CARF accreditation of medical rehabilitation programs that are part of a healthcare organization seeking JCAHO's network accreditation.
Beginning Aug. 1, the accrediting groups plan to expand the new agreement to in-clude the JCAHO's acceptance of CARF's accreditation of medical rehab units in acute-care hospitals.
The groups said the JCAHO's acceptance of CARF accreditation is based on a thorough comparability review of CARF's standards, survey process, surveyor training and accreditation process. In addition, they said CARF has agreed to publicly disclose certain findings on which an organization's accreditation decision was based.
"This formal agreement with the Joint Commission is another important step in a broad cooperative accreditation initiative," said Donald Galvin, president and chief executive officer of CARF. "It will make the accreditation process less formidable for medical rehabilitation providers."
Since January 1997 the JCAHO and CARF have offered freestanding rehabilitation hospitals the option of using a combined survey process that could lead to dual accreditation.
Under the combined system, JCAHO and CARF surveys are conducted at the same time and their survey teams work together to conduct certain reviews in an effort to prevent providers from having to prepare for two separate surveys.
However, the accrediting groups continue to issue separate accreditation decisions and reports for freestanding rehabilitation hospitals. They also continue to charge separate fees for their surveys.
MacDonell said the two groups expect to complete 15 joint surveys of freestanding rehabilitation hospitals by the end of the year and have scheduled 15 to 20 more for next year.