to main content Ambulatory Care Accreditation Fact Sheet | The Joint Commission

Ambulatory Care Accreditation Fact Sheet

  • The Ambulatory Care Accreditation Program launched in 1975.
  • More than 2,200 freestanding ambulatory care organizations are accredited by The Joint Commission.
  • Accreditation is awarded for a three-year period.

These organizations generally fall into the categories of surgical, medical/dental, diagnostic/therapeutic services, and episodic care. Examples of facilities that can be accredited include: ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), medical group practices, urgent care centers, community health centers, dental practices, dialysis centers, retail clinics, imaging centers, sleep centers, catheterization labs, vascular access centers, and telemedicine providers.


Joint Commission standards address the ambulatory care organization’s performance in specific areas and specify requirements to ensure that patient care and services are provided in a safe manner. The Joint Commission develops its standards in consultation with health care experts, providers and researchers, as well as purchasers and consumers. The Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Ambulatory Care is available for purchase in both hardcover and electronic format.

Accreditation process

The Joint Commission’s accreditation process concentrates on operational systems critical to the safety and quality of patient care. Accreditation awards are valid for three years. Surveys are conducted by professionals with at least five years of leadership experience in an ambulatory care organization, and a strong educational background. Ambulatory care surveyors have advanced medical or clinical degrees and receive continuing education to keep them up-to-date on advances in quality-related performance evaluation.

Certification options

The Joint Commission offers the following certification options:

  • Primary Care Medical Home Certification for Joint Commission-accredited ambulatory care organizations focuses on care coordination, access to care, and how effectively a primary care clinician and interdisciplinary teamwork in partnership with the patient (and, where applicable, their family). The PCMH certification option is consistent with the new federal health care reform efforts to improve health outcomes and the continuity, quality and efficiency of health care services. The PCMH requirements are integrated into the ambulatory care onsite accreditation survey process.


  • Core Orthopedic, Advanced Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement (THKR) Certification and Advanced Certification in Spine Surgery (ACSS) are available to ASCs. Orthopedic certification provides a path to better patient care by helping identify and measure areas for performance improvement. There are 16 core orthopedic options. The advanced THKR and ACSS certification programs help organizations develop consistent communication and collaboration among all health care providers involved in the care of the patient.

Federal deemed status/designation

The Joint Commission is recognized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as having standards and a survey process that meet or exceed Medicare’s requirements. Voluntary deemed status through The Joint Commission is available for ASCs. In addition, The Joint Commission is a designated accrediting organization for advanced diagnostic imaging services.

Cost of accreditation

The Joint Commission uses an annual subscription billing model which spreads accreditation costs over a three-year period. The onsite survey fee is invoiced after the onsite survey is concluded and covers survey-related costs. For more information, contact the Joint Commission’s pricing unit at 630-792-5115 or .

Learn more