By A.J. Plunkett
The Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP), the oldest CMS-approved hospital accreditation program in the nation, has merged with the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) in a move designed to expand both organizations’ reach in the compliance world.
HFAP standards and certification requirements will stay the same and it will continue to operate under the HFAP name as a brand within ACHC, according to information released by both organizations October 20.
The merger was approved by CMS on October 19.
The move “streamlines accreditation and certification services for healthcare providers with multiple survey needs,” according to the announcement.
Merger provides new range of offerings
HFAP holds CMS deeming authority to approve hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and critical access hospitals for participation in Medicare. Meanwhile, ACHC has deeming authority for home health, hospice, renal dialysis, home infusion therapy, and Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS).
“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,” according to the announcement.
Officially, the merger is between ACHC and the Accreditation Association for Hospitals/Health Systems (AAHHS). AAHHS acquired HFAP from the American Osteopathic Association in a move approved by CMS in 2017 and therefore is the legal entity that entered into the merger with ACHC.
However, HFAP is the only program within AAHHS.
Both HFAP and ACHC customers have been notified of the change.
Surveys, standards won’t change
The merger will not affect accreditation cycles for either ACHC or HFAP customers, according to the announcement. “Current accreditation and/or certification status, account managers and processes will not change. Furthermore, the merger does not require current HFAP customers to undergo an initial survey.”
“Our merger brings existing HFAP customers additional opportunities to be awarded recognition of their programs and a broader range of education,” said Meg Gravesmill, CEO of AAHHS, in the announcement. “As importantly, customers will continue to enjoy the highest level of personalized service and quality they have trusted for decades.”
According to HFAP, programs will continue to use the standards that have been developed and these continue to be subject to regular review and updating.
Any certification or accreditation awards will still carry the HFAP label, with a notation that it is a brand of ACHC.
Why is HFAP the oldest?
HFAP was created in 1945 to provide “an objective review of services provided by osteopathic hospitals.” The Joint Commission (TJC) and its predecessors provided similar services to more traditional hospitals. When Medicare was created in 1965, TJC was named in the law as an accreditation organization (AO) and all others had to apply for approval. TJC did not have to seek approval until the law was changed in 2008.
That meant that since HFAP was approved in 1945 to accredit osteopathic hospitals, it became the oldest CMS-approved AO.
ACHC is a nonprofit AO created in 1986. Besides being a deeming authority approval of home health, hospice, renal dialysis, DMEPOS, and home infusion therapy, it also employs a quality management system that is ISO 9001:2015 certified, according to its website, www.achc.org
For more information about HFAP, go to HFAP.org.
A.J. Plunkett is editor of Inside Accreditation & Quality, a Simplify Compliance publication.