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Audiology Practice Accreditation: Is It Needed?

Morris, Angela, AuD

doi: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000533800.48977.9f

Dr. Morris is the immediate past president of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and the chair of ADA's Accreditation Standards Committee.

As many of you may have heard, the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) is establishing a practice accreditation for the profession of audiology. There have been many thoughts since the announcement, from “It's about time” to “Why?” The “why” is what I will elaborate on.

When talking about best practices in audiology, many people say that audiologists observe them—but how do we really know for sure? Audiologists can get certified by showing that they have CEU hours, but they don't have to show any proof that they are following best practices. When talking about increasing reimbursements, particularly how we determine if best practices are followed, we are unable to provide an answer because there is no data to back up any kind of response.

For practice owners who are committed to implementing established, evidence-based practices, accreditation is a natural step. Accreditation is for those who seek to provide the best patient care and meet the highest standards of practice.

In evaluating other professions that have practice accreditations, such as pharmacy, dentistry, and optometry, to name a few, it is clear that there is substantial value in accreditation. There is tremendous value in developing a framework to efficiently and effectively provide services and creating a consensus around a specific practice. Practice accreditation can assure your patients that you strive to provide the best possible care. It can also assure your referral sources, university clinical placement coordinators, and payers who are considering possible changes in the way audiologists are reimbursed.

A practice accreditation program will measure clinic processes and procedures against a set of peer-reviewed, evidence-based standards. These will include all aspects of your practice, including clinical, practice administration, equipment and facilities, as well as quality assurance.

Over the past year, I moved to a new state and had to establish new health care relationships. As a consumer, I conducted full research on all of the potential providers in my area for the services that I needed. I looked at individual provider's credentials and the credentials of their facilities. I wanted to be satisfied that the clinicians and facilities I choose adhere to the strictest of standards, both clinically and otherwise, where my medical affairs are concerned.

The ADA accreditation program will be made available to any type of audiology practice, not only private practices but also anyone who wants to demonstrate his or her high standards of care. ADA membership is not required. ADA-accredited practices will demonstrate a commitment to patient-centered care, transparency, and adherence to clinical and ethical guidelines as outlined by leading national organizations and institutions. The more consistent we can make our practice sites, whether it be an ENT-based audiology practice, a university clinic, a hospital-based practice, or a private practice, the better off we are as a profession. Audiologists are more able to speak as one voice when it comes to professional standards, and can assure our communities that audiologists voluntarily adhere to the highest standard of care.

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