You have questions? We have answers
Our purpose in creating this document is to provide information for leaders of Pregnancy Medical Clinics (PMCs) who are actively exploring the possibility of becoming accredited with the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). In this document we have attempted to answer the questions that we most frequently receive from leaders of Pregnancy Medical Clinics about AAAHC.
While AAAHC accreditation is not for every medical clinic, we have seen firsthand the amazing positive impact that AAAHC accreditation has had on the growing number of accredited clinics across the nation.
Question: I've heard about AAAHC accreditation, but how will it impact my clinic?
Answer: Accreditation gives a concrete roadmap for implementing the highest standards of patient care, removing any guesswork from the equation. Over 550 benchmarks are required to be met, each one designed to make the patient experience exceptional. In doing so, your clinic, employees, and organization are challenged to be the best you can be, and in the end, your patient wins as you achieve the highest standards of medical practice
Question: Our mission is to provide compassionate care to hurting people, offering them a positive alternative to abortion. How will accreditation help me do that?
Answer: Accreditation provides a framework on which to build solid daily operational procedures, as well as functional and legal organizational structure. Having this foundation in place will allow you to focus your energy on what is truly important – your patients. For the CEO who lays awake at night wondering what it is she's missing, take heart. Your questions will be answered, and the missing gaps will close.
Question: Does AAAHC support abortion providers?
Answer: No. AAAHC DOES NOT support abortion providers. By accrediting an abortion facility, AAAHC is no more supporting that facility than when they accredit a PMC or cosmetic surgeon's facility. They take no position for or against abortion.
They are pro-patient in all of their standards and requirements. AAAHC is an organization that specializes in establishing nationally recognized patient services and medically sound standards for ambulatory health care clinics across the nation, just as the Joint Commission does for hospitals. If AAAHC only provided its certificate of accreditation exclusively to one group of people who holds a particular philosophy they wouldn't be a non-biased, respected, true third party provider.
Question: Does becoming AAAHC accredited impact or change accusations that PMCs are fake medical clinics?
Answer: Yes. If your center is accredited by the AAAHC you will be able to defend that your PMC is a legitimate medical clinic because, as The Joint Commission does not accredit "fake hospitals," AAAHC does not accredit "fake medical clinics".
Question: Should every PMC be accredited by the AAAHC?
Answer: No. AAAHC is not for every PMC. It is for those PMCs who want to assure that they are providing patient care under nationally recognized standards, and debunk any claim that they are a "fake" medical clinic. In addition, becoming accredited may help PMCs to protect themselves from potential legal problems regarding governance, human resources, and patient care through standardized, nationally recognized policies and procedures required by the AAAHC's standards.
Question: Does AAAHC accreditation offer protection from attacks from pro-abortion organizations?
Answer: AAAHC accreditation, or at a minimum having the AAAHC standards in place, reduces the risk of being targeted. It provides sound standards, solid record keeping, and industry credibility should your center be accused or investigated for poor practices.
Question: Will accreditation come at an unreasonably high financial cost? Is this simply a money-maker for AAAHC and the consultant?
Answer: There are many ways to achieve and maintain AAAHC accreditation. Depending on your level of need, you may hire a consultant, or you may choose to work through the process without a consultant. Some PMCs have been very successful in obtaining grants for 100% of the cost of achieving accreditation. Most clinics look at their accreditation fees as they do with any affiliation that makes their organization better – as the cost of doing business.
Question: Will becoming accredited with AAAHC help your PMC's credibility and reputation?
Answer: Yes. It is undisputable. PMC's who have become AAAHC accredited report a significant increase in respect from medical professionals in their community, donors, media, legislators, and the public at large.
Question: Are PMCs compromising their core values by becoming accredited with AAAHC?
Answer: AAAHC is not a supporter of the abortion industry. The few abortion providers who voluntarily seek accreditation are then held accountable to maintain those best practices so that women who utilize their services will be offered the same level of care they would receive from any other accredited provider.
From which companies do you purchase your computers, software, phone systems, and office supplies? It's possible that manufactures and suppliers with whom you do business make outright financial contributions to the abortion industry. AAAHC does not.
Question: Are the standards required by AAAHC accreditation "arbitrary"?
Answer: No. The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care was founded in 1979 to: "Encourage and assist ambulatory health care organizations to provide the highest achievable level of care for recipients in the most efficient and economically sound manner."
AAAHC accomplishes this by the operation of a peer-based assessment, consultation, education, and accreditation program."
The six founding members of the AAAHC were the American College Health Association, the American Group Practice Association (now known as the American Medical Group Association), the Federated Ambulatory Surgery Association (now known as the Ambulatory Surgery Foundation), the Group Health Association of America (now known as the American Association of Health Plans), the Medical Group Management Association, and the National Association of Community Health Centers.
Today's AAAHC includes 18 member organizations representing the broad spectrum of ambulatory health care facilities such as cosmetic surgery, dermatology, podiatry, and gynecology. The growth of the Board has helped the AAAHC add new standards in areas such as dentistry, behavioral health, and health education and wellness, while continuously updating existing standards to reflect cutting-edge ambulatory care knowledge and practice.
Since its inception, the AAAHC has promoted a voluntary, peer-based, consultative, and educational survey process to advance patient care. These values hold true today, as embodied in the current mission statement: Improving health care quality through accreditation.
Question: Is the strongest protection against legal assault for a prolife medical clinic to ONLY do things legally?
Answer: Accreditation is so much more than "only doing things legally." If our only concern as caregivers was to avoid legal assault, then stopping at "what is legal" would be enough. However, our call as Christians, and as caregivers, is to serve our patients well. The standards put in place by this nationally recognized accrediting agency assures that our clinics are not only legal but exceptional. We think both of those things matter.
Question: Does accreditation enhance our ability to minister to those that are hurting and needing our assistance?
Answer: By obtaining accreditation, it lowers your risk from a medical/legal perspective and gives you peace of mind that you are doing things right. Your ability to minister more effectively is a result of being able to focus on the patient, rather than worrying if you are doing things correctly.
Question: Should PMCs expend money to an organization that also accredits abortion facilities?
Answer: AAAHC is a nonprofit (the same as the Joint Commission) whose model is setting the standards for ambulatory health centers in patient care, regardless of who that patient is. AAAHC is concerned about the overall health care that patients are provided and therefore, they do not only accredit the facility for the woman who chooses life, but also the woman who choses abortion. Women deserve the best health care possible no matter what their decision is. PMCs who become accredited are NOT giving money to the abortion industry via AAAHC.
Question: Will becoming accredited exempt our pregnancy center from all federal and/or state laws?
Answer: No. AAAHC accreditation will not exempt Pregnancy Medical Clinics from laws that regulate all medical clinics. Accreditation is NOT a silver bullet, but will help assure that your PMC is operating with the highest nationally recognized standards in health care.
Question: Does AAAHC provide a consultant for free?
Answer: No. AAAHC cannot provide a consultant. They do have a subsidiary company that contracts with AAAHC to assist ambulatory health care facilities in the accreditation process. They provide a policy and procedure templates and charge $12,000 - $15,000.
Question: What is the average cost for a consultant to assist in the accreditation process?
Answer: Your Solutions Now provides their services from $10,350 for Level One, which provides everything customized for your PMC or Level Two for approximately $6,500 depending on the level of assistance.
Question: How often does my PMC have to be re-accredited?
Answer: Every three years.
Question: Do I have to pay the consultant and AAAHC again?
Answer: You don't have to pay a consultant again, but most organizations retain the consultant on an annual basis to keep them updated with changes and other mandatory requirements. Retaining a consultant also allows ongoing access to the online mandatory training. AAAHC will charge the application fee and surveyor fee every three years.
Question: Is the consultant's fee separate from AAAHC's fee?
Answer: Yes, they are separate. AAAHC's application fee is $800 and the surveyor fee is approximately $4,775 for one center and is paid directly to AAAHC.
"When I heard that some pregnancy medical centers were going through a process of ambulatory health care accreditation (AAAHC), I immediately saw that as a way to show that they take seriously their responsibility to their patients, speaking a language that regulatory entities would understand."
Susan Rutherford, MD, FACOG
Board Certified OB/GYN and Maternal-Fetal Medicine
President/CEO of 3W Medical, Seattle, WA
Medical Director of Women's Health Network
"We now have a third party national organization to partner with us and help us maintain the highest standards of care, which reflects the love and concern we have for our patients."
Karen Plevyak RN, Nurse Manager,
Alternatives Women's Center,
"The level of excellence that we have always desired to serve in has become reality thanks to the standards of AAAHC and the training that we have received."
Christina Middleton, Executive Director
Caring Solutions/CORE Healthcare for Women of Central Georgia