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Accreditation's New Player

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Magazine, March 12, 2009
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DNV is the first new deeming authority for hospitals in more than 30 years. Can the organization take a bite out of The Joint Commission's dominance?

Getting federal deeming authority for hospital compliance with Medicare Conditions of Participation is not for the faint of heart. Which may explain why the federal government hasn't granted deeming authority to a private company for the accreditation of hospitals in more than three decades.

That changed last fall when Cincinnati-based DNV Healthcare Inc. was given the authority to accredit hospitals by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Darrel Scott, DNV Healthcare's senior vice president for regulatory and legal affairs, says approximately 20 hospitals are now Medicare-accredited by DNVHC, a subsidiary of the Norwegian multinational company Det Norske Veritas. Scott says he expects the number of hospitals accredited through DNVHC to grow as word gets out that there is a new player in the market.

"DNV has a history of not getting into any program where they don't have the expectation of being the premier program of choice," he says. "Given a certain period of time, if we are doing our job, and we believe we offer a valid alternative, there is no reason to believe that we can't meet the expectation of being the hospital accreditation program of choice."

Explaining how DNVHC accredits Medicare providers requires an alphabet soup of acronyms. DNVHC calls its accreditation program NIAHO (National Integrated Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations).

NIAHO is the only Medicare accreditation process based on ISO 9001, the internationally recognized set of standards for quality management systems that is used to measure quality and accountability in dozens of industries. ISO certifies that a set of formalized business processes are in place and monitored to ensure compliance, identify problems, and correct them. ISO requires its certified businesses to keep detailed records and undergo regular internal review and annual external audits.

"Our program allows innovation as long as you can demonstrate that it works and you can document it and comply with the Medicare standards," Scott says. "We give hospitals the opportunity to identify their own problems, attach their own solutions, measure them, and continually improve instead of being locked into a specific set of practices you must follow."

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