Think about the last time you got your blood drawn. Was the office in good order? Did your physician seem knowledgeable? Hopefully the answer to these questions is yes. This is, in part, to thank for organizations who are deemed by the government to go in and inspect these clinical environments to make sure they are ‘up to code’. These accrediting organizations can range in function, whether they’re assessing clinical laboratories, other healthcare institutions, contractors, builders, education programs etc.
Though the people and places being reviewed differ, we have found the processes can be very similar. Documentation is key when accrediting and certifying, things like location logistics and activities performed need to be accessible along with results from previous accreditation assessments. In many organizations, this amounts to a lot of paper forms. That was the case with the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), who accredits facilities performing transfusion medicine and cellular therapies.
1. Mapping Out the Accreditation Process
When we met with AABB to discuss the benefits of an accreditation management system, we had them first tell us, in detail, their laboratory accreditation process. From onboarding a new customer to delivering the official certificate. We brought a representative from each department in to talk about their role in this process, and, at one big table, walked through the steps.
AABB printed out each form, letter and file that is a part of this accreditation process and laid it out in order. We found that each facility fills out a packet of account information – like address, personnel and activities – every two years. Most of this information doesn’t change year over year, but because the documents are submitted via fax, scanned and stored on a drive, there is no way to easily update this information.
In addition to the account information packet was the assessments themselves. If a facility has multiple locations performing a host of transfusion services, their assessments could be hundreds of pages long! Though documents were stored electronically, they had to first be scanned manually. The process was disjointed and time consuming.
2. Centralizing Communication for Staff and Customers
Accreditation Management Portal
After understanding their operations, we started to build out AABB’s online accreditation management system. Every form, letter and packet are now stored electronically in the Accreditation Portal, saving them hundreds of pieces of paper per customer. Through the online portal, AABB staff, assessors and customers are all able to collaborate in a central location.
Fillable forms are housed within the system, so there is no need to re-enter routine account information every two years. If something has changed, a facility can login and update their profile within the online portal. These forms are also dynamic, meaning they only show the information needed for that facility. A form may be 10 pages long but only 5 of them are required in your situation, the portal recognizes this and only shows the necessary information. Dynamic forms housed in the portal have contributed to the paper reduction for AABB drastically.
3. Implementing Workflow Automation
The ‘brain’ of the system is powered through workflow automation, which takes all of the manual tasks completed – faxes, emails, phone calls – and automates them through the use of computers. No more printing, scanning and faxing, also cutting down on paper consumption. For workflow automation to truly be effective, your solution provider must understand your operations in and out. We could not have been successful without mapping out their organizational steps, talking to employees involved in the process and understanding the moving parts that make up their accreditation program. You cannot effectively implement an accreditation management solution without first talking to the people who will be using it daily.
4. Moving Assessments Online
In many cases, these accreditation assessments must be completed by a team that surveys a facility, compares findings and then produces a final report. This means multiple people are completing dozens of pages of questions by hand. By moving their assessments online, we eliminated stacks and stacks of paper that was previously printed, scanned and faxed. The assessment module allows AABB assessors to conduct their accreditation assessments online on their laptops, tablets or mobile devices, enabling more flexibility and options.
Not only are the assessment packets now online, they are finalized much faster. After a successful assessment, the facility has a certificate of accreditation immediately after the final report is submitted.
Above is the stack of papers previously required for each facility accredited by AABB that are now a part of their accreditation management system powered by CompWALK.
Learn more about transforming your organization through an accreditation management system here.