Exploring the Effects of System-Wide Echocardiography Accreditation on Patient Care: A Case Study

Alexandra Kushman, Mishan Rambukwella, Claire Price, Karan Sethi, Jordan Ellis, Jon Chilingerian, Mylan Cohen



Background:Multi-site healthcare organizations such as MaineHealth are challenged by integration and providing consistent patient care across geographically distant sites. To increase integration and imaging laboratory standardization across diverse locations, MaineHealth undertook an initiative in 2016 to accredit sixteen echocardiography laboratories in a single application. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of System-wide Accreditation (SWA) at MaineHealth and examine employees’ perception of whether SWA affects efficiency.

Methods:Twenty field interviews were conducted with MaineHealth staff. Responses were analyzed for overlapping themes. To quantify perceptions of SWA, researchers administered a brief, anonymous survey answered by 11 employees. Researchers conducted site visits to Maine Medical Center (MMC) and Maine Medical Partners MaineHealth Cardiology, Scarborough Office to observe the culture and practices at MaineHealth echocardiography facilities.

Results:We found that MaineHealth employees believed SWA would standardize and elevate the quality of patient care, enhance staff knowledge and training, and reduce repeat echocardiograms. Employees interviewed also believed that the collaboration resulting from SWA could catalyze more widespread organizational change. Researchers calculated that SWA would save hundreds of hours in accreditation application compilation and would produce modest fee savings. However, MaineHealth has yet to demonstrate the benefit of accreditation empirically.

Conclusion:This study identified, through an interview process, that MaineHealth employees anticipate SWA to reduce the number of repeated echocardiograms through standardization and increase imaging study quality, benefiting patients and MaineHealth. The employees also perceived that other hospital systems may benefit from the efficiencies realized by similar system-wide initiatives to accredit other imaging laboratories at MaineHealth.  While this study is exploratory, it surfaced several testable hypotheses.  As more data becomes available, further research can be undertaken to assess the effectiveness of SWA in comparison with traditional accreditation procedures. This can, in turn, guide system-wide, and even state-wide accreditation initiatives. 

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Published online 2015 Jul 23. doi: 10.1186/s12913-015-0933-x. Available at: https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ezproxy.library.tufts.edu/pubmed/26202068


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ISSN: 2333-4096