Determining the Value of Echocardiography Laboratory Accreditation
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From the beginning of imaging laboratory accreditation over a quarter century ago, through a recent period of explosive growth of accreditation, laboratory leaders have likely been motivated to walk the accreditation path by 2 primary drivers; first, representing the best aspects of professionalism by seeking to improve quality of care, and second, responding to real or perceived financial pressures to obtain accreditation to ensure payment for services. Because of the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has not required accreditation for echocardiography services, one may conclude that the fact that over 5000 laboratories are currently accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission: Echocardiography (B. Gorman, personal communication) likely does represent a response to the call for professionalism for healthcare providers of our era.1
See Article by Thaden et al
Gaining and maintaining accreditation requires conformation to a series of standards determined by an expert panel, and standards evolve and change over time. The main goal of accrediting bodies is typically to set a performance floor for structures, processes, and outcomes and then evaluate adherence to this performance benchmark. Increasingly, the practice of continuous quality improvement is encouraged, rather than episodic efforts tied to arbitrary renewal deadlines, and the potential for periodic audits further strengthens the continuity of evaluation. While electronic submission of applications has eased some of the paperwork previously associated with this, significant documentation is still required.
Is laboratory accreditation worth the effort? We recognize that achieving and maintaining accreditation requires significant staff time and expense that could be devoted to other options to improve quality of care, particularly for larger laboratories embedded in complex healthcare systems, where multiple entities offer an almost overwhelming variety of general and cardiovascular accreditation choices and registries.2 Reviewing the literature for robust, quantitative evidence supporting the value of laboratory …