- CMS said Thursday it will make some changes to its oversight of hospital accrediting organizations, including making more information publicly available and piloting direct observation of surveys.
- Data on evaluation of the organizations will be posted online, along with annual reports, in an effort "to increase transparency for patients on the organizations' performance," the agency said in a press release.
- In the pilot program, CMS will replace state validation surveys with direct observation during original AO assessments "to evaluate AO performance more effectively" and "suggest improvements and address concerns with AOs immediately." The agency touted the new method as cutting back on duplicative regulation by allowing providers to forgo follow-up assessments.
This isn't the first time CMS has attempted to make the hospital accreditation process more public. Late last year the agency rolled back plans to make public reports from accrediting organizations, saying it could be construed as an attempt to circumvent federal law barring release of third-party audit results.
The American Hospital Association didn't outright oppose the proposal at the time, but did question whether details of inspections should be public. AHA said Friday it was reviewing the latest announcement and did not have an immediate comment.
The Wall Street Journal reported in September 2017 on the rarity of revoked or altered accreditation despite identified safety violations. About 350 hospitals maintained their status with the Joint Commission (which evaluates 80% of hospitals) in 2014 despite such problems, according to the investigation.
Congress has stepped in to question CMS and the accrediting organizations over their rigor. The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced in March it "is conducting oversight to ensure that patient safety is being provided for, and that federal standards are being adhered to, in hospitals participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs."
The committee sent questions to CMS, The Joint Commission, the Bureau of Healthcare Facilities Accreditation, the Center for Improvement in Heatlhcare Quality and DNV GL Healthcare.
CMS said the accrediting information it will begin posting online will include the care quality deficiency findings from complaint surveys, a list of providers the agency determines to be out of compliance and those providers' AOs and overall performance data for the AOs themselves.
“Today we are taking action to improve our oversight of Accrediting Organizations, including increasing transparency for patients on the organizations’ performance.” #StrengtheningMedicare https://t.co/wU07Bwqs4J pic.twitter.com/g4s6RHyrhC— Administrator Seema Verma (@SeemaCMS) October 4, 2018