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Ambulatory Surgery Centers See a Return on Investment into Quality Improvement


By Pearl S. Darling, MBA, Executive Director, Ambulatory Care Services

Organizations often question whether their investments into accreditation are worth it. While The Joint Commission has always felt they are, we never had the data to back this up – until now.

We are thrilled to share results of a new study that suggests Joint Commission accredited organizations have a strong chance of seeing a return on these investments.

A new independent study completed by the ROI Institute asked Joint Commission accredited ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) to identify areas where they have seen a return on investment (ROI) in accreditation.

On average, ASCs in the study saw a 628% ROI. That means that for every dollar an organization invested into accreditation, it saw that dollar returned plus an additional $6.28.

Organizations experienced the strongest financial returns in the following categories:
increased revenue
higher payer reimbursement rates
improved operations
lower staff turnover
improved competencies of supervisors and staff

Study Design and Development
In designing the study, the ROI Institute sought to uncover:

  • key outcomes desired by individuals who support and sponsor accreditation
  • ROI: comparison of costs to monetary benefits
  • how success is achieved
  • information to help organizations making accreditation-related decisions

Return was calculated using ROI Methodology, the most widely recognized approach to calculating ROI, implemented in over half of the Fortune 500 companies as well as several other private and government organizations throughout the US and in 70 countries internationally. This method allows organizations to logically categorize data so that a theory of change is evident as participants engage in programs, courses and processes.

Investing in Improvement

The study tells us that accreditation delivers – on quality and financially. 

And when you think about it, it makes sense. When implementing new and revised policies, procedures and systems to comply with quality and safety standards, healthcare organizations take a closer look at their systems and processes, improving efficiency and reducing risk.

Participants also identified top quality-related improvements including:

  •  quality in the delivery of patient care
  • patient safety
  • organizational culture
  • organizational sustainability

One participant noted that accreditation has shown them how to maintain high standards for facilities maintenance and improvements. Respondents also highlighted that accreditation has allowed them to be competitive and negotiate with payers and other insurers as they continue to build their organization.

Updating processes and procedures, reducing error, and strengthening status with payors – all mainstays of Joint Commission accreditation – improve an organization’s financial situation.

While The Joint Commission knows an organization’s accreditation focus is on providing safe, quality care for their patients, the financial incentive is worth considering for ASC leaders. The up-front cost may seem intimidating, but many organizations realize substantial return on that initial investment.

Learn more about the study.

Pearl Darling is the executive director for the Ambulatory Care Accreditation Program at The Joint Commission. In this role, she directs business development, strategic direction and overall product line management for Ambulatory Care Services. This program now covers over 2,200 accredited ambulatory organizations across 8,900 sites of care nationwide.