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The History of the ACHA ACHD Accreditation Program

The ACHA Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Accreditation Program is approaching its fifth anniversary—but the effort and planning to bring it to fruition began years earlier.

The goal of the program was and is to set standards of care for ACHD patients with a goal of improving patient-centered outcomes. Discussions first began in 2009 at ACHA’s U.S. Professionals Conference and ACHD Forum in Boston as part of the organization’s Vision 2020 strategic plan.

In January 2012, the Accreditation Steering Committee was established and several working groups, consisting of more than 60 ACHD and non-ACHD experts, were created to develop the program criteria. A little over a year later, approval for the finalized criteria, which consisted of 100 individual items across 19 categories, was achieved. Next, the Steering Committee went to work developing the application process and program implementation. The final proposed program was peer reviewed and endorsed by medical professionals, ACHD patients and family members, professional societies and patient advocacy organizations.

The program officially launched in 2017 and received an astounding 15 applications, in addition to five pilot sites. The ACHA ACHD Accreditation Program continues to grow, with 43 centers currently accredited across the country. Additional criteria were added in 2019 based on the updated ACHD care guidelines. With re-accreditation on the horizon, new programs applying each year, and additional programs using the accreditation criteria to elevate their level of care and services, our organization is incredibly grateful to those who have dedicated their time and energy to creating and supporting this program.

Posted August 16, 2021     

 

“The Vanderbilt Adult Congenital Heart Program has already benefited from our accreditation effort. During this process, our program formalized preexisting policies, which are complicated and exist among different departments at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and between the pediatric and adult enterprises. Importantly, the ACHA ACHD Accreditation process revealed the need for additional nursing resources dedicated to the ACHD program. Our institution responded to this need by doubling our nursing support.”

— Dr. Benjamin Frischhertz, Director (center), with Dr. Daniel Clark and Anna Peek, APRN

 

Timeline

2009: Accreditation Working Group for Vision 2020 as part of ACHA's U.S. Professionals Conference and ACHD Forum in Boston, MA

2009–2012: Program stalled due to lack of confidence in resources/organizational support and structure; Congenital Heart Walk was established as a means to fund Vision 2020 initiatives

January 2012: Accreditation initiated through improvement in resources/organizational structure and establishment of Accreditation Steering Committee – basic criteria assigned and working groups created for criteria categories (consisted of data review and included more than 60 ACHD and non-ACHD experts)

February 2013: Steering Committee meeting to discuss/confirm criteria (19 categories and 100 criteria)

February 2014: Next phase – budget, implementation, site visits – vetting and peer review through patients/families, societies and organizations

2015: 5 pilot sites begin process

July 2016: First application cycle opened with site visits October 2016 – March 2017. Site visit reviews coincided with ACC and AHA meetings. 15 applications received between January – June 2017; first accredited sites announced late summer 2017 (16 sites total accredited in 2017)

2019: Addition of new criteria based on updated ACHD guidelines – cardiac anesthesia and reproductive services

2021: First round of reaccredited centers to go through process; 42 accredited programs       

 

Thank you to the following sponsor for supporting the
ACHA ACHD Accreditation Program:

 

 

Contact Congress Today

Demand better research, surveillance, and awareness of ACHD by calling on Congress to act now on the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2024. Contact your elected officials today.