A mechanism for revising accreditation standards: A study of the process, resources required and evaluation outcomes

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Journal Article
BMC Health Services Research, 2014, 14
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© 2014 Greenfield et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Background: The study objective was to identify and describe the process, resources and expertise required for the revision of accreditation standards, and report outcomes arising from such activities. Methods: Secondary document analysis of materials from an accreditation standards development agency. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP) documents, minutes and reports related to the revision of the accreditation standards were examined. Results: The RACGP revision of the accreditation standards was conducted over a 12 month period and comprised six phases with multiple tasks, including: review methodology planning; review of the evidence base and each standard; new material development; constructing field trial methodology; drafting, trialling and refining new standards; and production of new standards. Over 100 individuals participated, with an additional 30 providing periodic input and feedback. Participants were drawn from healthcare professional associations, primary healthcare services, accreditation agencies, government agencies and public health organisations. Their expertise spanned: project management; standards development and writing; primary healthcare practice; quality and safety improvement methodologies; accreditation implementation and surveying; and research. The review and development process was shaped by five issues: project expectations; resource and time requirements; a collaborative approach; stakeholder engagement; and the product produced. The RACGP evaluation was that participants were positive about their experience, the standards produced and considered them relevant for the sector. Conclusions: The revision of accreditation standards requires considerable resources and expertise, drawn from a broad range of stakeholders. Collaborative, inclusive processes that engage key stakeholders helps promote greater industry acceptance of the standards.
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