COVID-19 Surge Prompts DNV to Switch Annual NIAHO Surveys to Remote Only

By A.J. Plunkett

DNV is cutting back on the number of onsite hospital surveys in response to a dramatic, continuing rise in COVID-19 cases that has overwhelmed hospitals in several states.

The second-largest accreditation organization (AO) in the country will continue to do triennial hospital surveys as required by CMS, but will now conduct NIAHO® annual surveys only remotely.

CMS, DNV and the other hospital AOs—The Joint Commission, HFAP and the Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality (CIHQ)—all said earlier this summer that they were returning to full, unannounced onsite surveys. In general, survey schedules remained flexible for hospitals experiencing a patient surge, as long as the facility had its incident command system activated, said accreditation consultants.

DNV’s accreditation process includes a full survey every three years as required by CMS, with annual NIAHO visits in the years between the triennial surveys.

In its announcement August 18, DNV noted that it had intended to return to full onsite NIAHO annual visits as of September 7. But the surge in COVID-19 cases changed the plan.

“On July 1 2021, DNV announced a return to full onsite NIAHO® accreditation surveys in hospitals, critical access hospitals and psychiatric hospitals, effective September 7, 2021. Since that announcement, COVID-19 positivity rates, hospitalizations, and community transmission have all increased dramatically. Trends in the national data from CMS and CDC show no relief in the short term, necessitating a review of our decision to return fully to onsite surveys,” according to the announcement.

“As COVID-19 risks continue to rise, DNV will now conduct NIAHO Annual (periodic) surveys remotely for the remainder of calendar 2021. This includes Condition-Level follow-up surveys resulting from annual surveys and any survey related to non-deemed accreditation,” said DNV.

“Current CMS procedure requires full accreditation surveys to be performed onsite, so all deemed NIAHO accreditation and re-accreditation surveys will be conducted onsite and unannounced until further notice. This includes new applicant hospitals (Medicare 855), initial DNV deemed accreditation (AO conversion, first-time accreditation, and new subprovider certifications).”

“For all DNV onsite survey activity, surveyors will wear face coverings according to CDC guidance for healthcare facilities. Surveyors will also follow your organization’s protocols for screening, sanitizing, and distancing, including use of videoconference technology to accommodate restrictions on staff or access to higher risk areas within the facility,” continued the announcement.

“The HHS COVID-19 Public Health Emergency remains in effect until at least October 18, 2021 and is expected to continue throughout calendar 2021. DNV will continue to monitor the PHE, along with local and national conditions using data provided by CMS and CDC. We will adhere to any AO process changes that may be required by CMS and communicate any future adjustments as they emerge.”

“DNV appreciates the accommodations our accredited hospitals have made to support remote annual surveys as the Public Health Emergency has progressed. Those efforts, along with the ongoing commitment of our surveyors, have helped keep our hospitals safe, compliant, and on-cycle for accreditation and ISO 9001 compliance. As a new COVID-19 wave emerges and many of you prepare for a second remote survey, we remain grateful for the ongoing support to ensure safe quality care.”

For more information on DNV certification surveys, go to the full advisory.

A.J. Plunkett is editor of Inside Accreditation & Quality, an HCPro publication.