We’ve talked a lot on this blog about the value of accreditation for behavioral health practices. But where should you seek accreditation? Behavioral health practices have a variety of options.
The best choice depends largely on the type of organization you have and the services you provide. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
Why pursue Joint Commission accreditation
The Joint Commission is an independent non-profit, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, that assesses healthcare providers for patient care and safety. This includes behavioral health care, as well as laboratory services, nursing care settings, and assisted living communities.
With the Joint Commission, all your organization’s programs and services are within the scope of accreditation. That means each program and service you provide must be surveyed and meet Joint Commission standards. This could be a significant factor in deciding to pursue accreditation.
This body has no “track record” requirement for accreditation. As long as your practice meets the Joint Commission’s requirements at the time of the accreditation survey, and has the infrastructure to maintain those requirements, you do not need to have met the standards previously.
Why pursue CARF accreditation
Tucson, Arizona-based CARF International surveys and accredits human-service organizations. Besides addiction treatment and behavioral health facilities, this non-profit also accredits aging services, child and youth services, and durable medical equipment.
With CARF, you can select specific services or programs to be included in the accreditation scope. For example, if you offer both intensive outpatient programs and residential programs, you may choose to have only one of those programs be accredited.
If your initial accreditation survey yields a less-than-satisfactory result, CARF offers the opportunity to receive a one-year accreditation. The standard three-year period would follow if you then achieved the requirements.
CARF requires its accreditation applicants to meet their accreditation standards for 6 months prior to their initial survey. This may create a longer timeline for achieving CARF accreditation.
Other accreditation options for behavioral health
The Joint Commission and CARF are the two big players in behavioral health accreditation. However, other accrediting bodies may be appropriate for your organization, depending on the services you provide.
These bodies may include:
- Association for Experiential Education (AEE): This organization offers accreditation for adventure programs and organizations, including outdoor behavioral healthcare and youth programs. AEE accreditation is meant to demonstrate a commitment to safety, risk management, improvement, and program success.
- Social Current: This organization is the product of a merger between the Council on Accreditation and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. It accredits all types of social and human services organizations committed to managing resources, best practices, and continuous improvement.
- The Teaching-Family Association (TFA): This organization specifically accredits the use of The Teaching-Family Model, which is designed to help with a variety of behavioral, emotional, or mental health problems. TFA evaluates how well a provider implements 15 standards, focused on best practices and quality client outcome.
Your practice leaders should examine how the unique benefits and requirements of each accrediting body relate to your services. Once you have decided which accrediting body is most appropriate, you can prepare more appropriately.
Having an effective EHR system in place can help your behavioral health or addiction treatment practice prepare for accreditation and stay compliant. BestNotes EHR offers automatic clinical documentation updates to meet the latest Joint Commission and CARF requirements. Request a demo today to learn more about how we can help you follow accreditation standards!