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It marks the first time that two accrediting organizations with deeming authority from CMS have merged
The Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) and Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) are joining to form a single company providing accreditation and certification services to providers.
Under the October 19 merger agreement between ACHC and Accreditation Association for Hospitals/Health Systems (AAHHS)—HFAP's parent company—HFAP will operate as a brand within ACHC.
Formally approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the move streamlines services for existing customers and organizations and marks the first time that two accrediting operations with deeming authority from CMS have merged.
“Together, the combined services of ACHC and HFAP open possibilities for healthcare providers, affording them more choices and greater ease in meeting the accreditation and certification needs of their organizations,” said José Domingos, president and CEO of ACHC, in a statement following the merger announcement.
ACHC has CMS deeming authority for home health, hospice, renal dialysis, home infusion therapy and DMEPOS—durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies. It also is a deeming authority for specialty pharmacies.
The expanded ACHC now adds HFAP programs with CMS deeming authority for hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and critical access hospitals. The merged group broadens the routes to certification for pharmacies, as HFAP overlaps to some degree in the case of compounding pharmacies.
Part of that overlap has to do with a number of the HFAP-accredited hospitals that operate their own compounding pharmacies, thus making it a logical step for HFAP to offer the additional service, Marci Ramahi, CAE, director of Accreditation/Certification Operations, explained a couple of years ago. Ramahi noted at the time that freestanding compounding pharmacies were also candidates, with certification consisting of a review of documentation, interviews and site visits by surveyors.
Additional HFAP offerings—such as accreditation programs for ambulatory specialty care (office-based surgery), non-deemed accreditation and specialty certification for four levels of stroke care, laser and lithotripsy services, inpatient and outpatient joint replacement and wound care—will expand and complement the ACHC portfolio, which also includes programs for ambulatory care, behavioral health, pharmacy, private duty and sleep.
The transition is expected to be seamless, the organizations say, adding the merger does not affect accreditation cycles for either ACHC or HFAP customers. Current accreditation and/or certification status, account managers and processes also are not expected to change. In addition, the merger does not require current HFAP customers to undergo an initial survey.
Still separate following the merger of the two big accreditation services is URAC, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, which was founded in 1990 as a third-party quality validator, including for specialty pharmacies. Payers and manufacturers look for URAC accreditation as part of choosing which pharmacies to work with in specialty pharmaceutical distribution and dispensing.
URAC’s accreditation standards look closely at how pharmacies document their internal practices, and there is an emphasis on proper cold chain practices to ensure that temperature-sensitive specialty pharmaceuticals are being handled safely.
ACHC, a nonprofit organization, was formed in 1986. Its staff members are expected to remain in Cary, NC. HFAP, founded in 1945, is a not-for-profit accreditation program with staff located in both Cary and Chicago.