Adjusting Accreditation During COVID-19

Posted Thursday, Sep 17, 2020

This year has undoubtedly been challenging and required a great deal of adaptability across all industries. The non-profit sector and the Adult Congenital Heart Association have been no different. Events have needed to be cancelled or rescheduled and fundraising efforts have been greatly impacted. We found ourselves needing to reimagine much of our work to fit into this new virtual space we are living in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these challenges, ACHA has continued to meet the needs of patients, family members and medical providers through educational offerings such as webinars, opportunities to connect, Virtual CHD Conversations events and fundraisers, and spending more time speaking one-on-one with members across the country.

Throughout the pandemic, continuing to move the ACHA ACHD Accreditation Program forward was also a priority for the organization. The ACHA ACHD Accreditation Program improves patient care by setting standards for ACHD program staffing, policies and services. There are 20 categories with more than 100 individual pieces of criteria that programs must meet prior to becoming an accredited comprehensive care center. Every program undergoes a thorough application review followed by an in-person all day site visit with an ACHA Accreditation staff member and Steering Committee member.

There are two Steering Committee meetings a year, one in the spring and one in the fall, where programs that have completed an application and site visit are discussed, along with other topics related to the Accreditation Program. The spring meeting in March, which is typically conducted in-person, was transitioned to a virtual meeting using the Zoom platform. With the rise in COVID-19 cases, travel restrictions for providers, and uncertainty surrounding when it would be safe to conduct in-person site visits again, ACHA began to explore options to conduct site visits virtually.

Beginning in June, ACHA began conducting completely virtual site visits using Zoom. The ACHA ACHD Accreditation team developed guidelines for these site visits and has been working with programs in preparing for these site visits in much the same way as if they were in-person. We are happy to share that this transition has been very successful. Additional features, such as the waiting room, have been very helpful with ensuring interviews run smoothly throughout the day. The virtual platform has also allowed certain providers, who otherwise may not have been able to participate in an in-person site visit, to do so. To date, ACHA has completed two virtual site visits with an additional three scheduled for the fall and will continue for as long as necessary.