Joint Commission, AHA offer new accreditations for MI centers

The Joint Commission and American Heart Association will start accepting applications for two new heart attack programs July 1, including the Acute Heart Attack Ready (AHAR) and Primary Heart Attack Center (PHAC) certifications.

According to a June 19 blog post, AHAR and PHAC certifications will be awarded to hospitals and centers devoted to consistent, organized and quality ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI) care.

“The programs require hospitals to demonstrate their application of and compliance with clinical practice guidelines, which may include guidelines and recommendations published by AHA, relevant to the STEMI patient population treated,” author Antigone E. Kokalias, MBA, MSN, RN, a project director at the Joint Commission, wrote in the post. “The clinical practice guidelines include recommendations for STEMI care across settings related to assessment, monitoring, management and performance throughout the entire continuum of care.”

AHAR certification is intended for smaller community or rural hospitals, Kokalias wrote, as well as critical access centers and free-standing emergency departments. The program focuses on STEMI symptom onset, emergency medical services and inpatient settings, and four standardized measures will be used to establish applicants’ level of performance:

  • Electrocardiogram within 10 minutes of arrival
  • Arrival to thrombolytics within 30 minutes
  • Arrival to transfer to PCI center within 45 minutes
  • EMS first medical contact to PCI within 90 minutes (only AHARs that provide PCI coverage for primary PCI)

Hospitals interested in an AHAR certification must serve a minimum of 10 patients, participate in the AHA’s Get with the Guidelines coronary artery disease program and designate themselves as a smoke-free campus.

Eligibility for the PHAC certification is similar, with a greater emphasis on the cath lab and PCI procedures. To apply, hospitals also need to demonstrate 24/7 primary PCI coverage for STEMI patients and individual interventional cardiologist case volumes of at least 50 PCI procedures and 11 primary PCIs per year.

As with AHAR certification, PHAC certification will require applicants to fulfill four standardized measures:

  • ECG within 10 minutes of arrival 
  • Primary PCI within 90 minutes
  • EMS first medical contact within 90 minutes
  • Arrival at first facility to primary PCI within 120 minutes

“Both certification programs emphasize the importance of facility collaboration with EMS and transport agencies, STEMI education, community outreach and quality metrics,” Kokalias said.

The AHAR and PHAC programs will replace the AHA’s existing Mission: Lifeline Heart Attack accreditations for STEMI receiving and referring hospitals. Centers with those designations have the choice to apply for AHAR or PHAC at any time in the accreditation cycle or wait until their STEMI accreditation is close to expiration and then apply for either program.