When we learned about Accreditation for Cardiovascular Excellence (ACE), we considered it in the context of the challenges that all hospitals are facing. We examined how accreditation empowered physicians, staff and administrators to examine operational processes and make changes reflecting best practices. When ACE became available, it made sense to invest in our cardiac catheterization programs.
The interventional programs at South Miami Heart Center (SMHC) and Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute (BCVI) at Baptist Health South Florida have achieved a reputation of excellence, but we knew there was room for improvement. ACE, whose mission is to ensure high-quality patient care and promote patient safety in facilities that perform invasive cardiac and endovascular procedures, offered us that chance. It sets standards for quality care, establishes requirements for accreditation and offers tools and resources to support self-evaluation and quality improvement.
That is why we chose to pursue ACE for diagnostic catheterizations and PCIs, making SMHC and BCVI the first cardiac cath labs in Florida to receive accreditation.
Changes in payment for services, documentation requirements, quality and safety initiatives, as well as public reporting of quality outcomes have altered hospital business models. Furthermore, increased scrutiny by public and regulatory agencies necessitates greater diligence in hospital audits and compliance processes—a hefty investment for any hospital. And, finally, the link between the supply chain and the revenue cycle demands practices effectively use the buying power of a multi-hospital system. Compact, uniform processes must be maintained across facilities.
The cost of the ACE accreditation process, including application fees, the site visit, about 600 staff hours, and the changes incurred in process methodology was approximately $55,000 for both SMHC and BCVI—the financial equivalent of purchasing a new piece of equipment. And, that is exactly how we view the process in the current healthcare environment: ACE accreditation is a new tool in our armamentarium for delivering quality care.
The process itself provided us with an instrument for continuous improvement and helped us define strategic areas of opportunity. It also helped us improve our product line, decrease process variability, improve our sustainability and verify our multidisciplinary approach to treating cardiovascular disease. It provided team members an opportunity to identify common goals, collaborate to streamline and enhance the workflow process and review new procedures and equipment, which bolstered the team’s confidence in their roles and our patients’ safety.
Earning ACE accreditation proved to be an investment in the growth and development of our cath labs and our relationships with our physicians. Recruiting, training and retaining qualified cath lab personnel all require time and money. By raising morale, the accreditation process improved employee and physician satisfaction and recruitment.
Other important benefits include increased competitiveness in the healthcare market, improved quality of service and increased efficiency, which reduces costs and waste. These are all important benefits; however, the greatest benefit of achieving full accreditation from ACE is our clear-cut commitment to physicians, nurses and staff. This seal of approval from ACE communicates to our colleagues, our community and our patients that we maintain the safest and highest level of cardiac care.
Dr. Biggs is vice president at the South Miami Heart Center, Baptist Health South Florida. Ms. Mascioli is vice president at Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute, Baptist Health South Florida.