Accreditation Surveys: Secrets for Your Big Win


The strategies for winning in sports are the same for business — or in this case, a successful accreditation survey. In both business and sports, you must know the rules, create a game plan, and bring in a strong leadership team.

Helen Lowenwirth, MBA, CASC, administrator at East Side Endoscopy & Pain Management Center (ESNY) in Manhattan, New York, scored big on her most recent surprise CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) accreditation survey. She and her Physicians Endoscopy (PE) team share some of their secrets for survey success. Physicians Endoscopy has been a long-term affiliate of the center providing ongoing administrative services and operational oversight.

East Side's Backstory

"You never know when they're coming. We waited for months, and every Monday if they didn't show by 11 a.m., I knew we had another week," remembers Helen. "When they walked through the door that busy Monday morning in May, it was go time. I'm proud to say we were ready, and the team did great!" she says, "And we finished almost every case on the schedule that day!"

But it wasn't easy getting there. Helen says it took time to wrap her head around the accreditation process for ASCs, which is more stringent in New York, with both city and state oversight. 

"I came from a large radiology center where compliance focused more on equipment," she says. "The different level of oversight involving people and procedures was overwhelming at first. There was so much to learn, but it got easier after a few cycles." 

When asked about her secrets for success, Helen cites a very dedicated staff and support from Physicians Endoscopy. "PE helped me get organized and gave me the tools to succeed. They stood by me every step of the way, yet allowed me to figure out what worked best for us," she adds. 

Mary Ann Gellenbeck, senior vice president of implementation services at PE, and Ann Sariego, PE's senior vice president of operations, credit Helen's leadership and her focus on doing the right things for the right reasons. 

Mary Ann says, "We can give anyone the guidelines and teach them processes and procedures. It's ultimately up to the onside leaders to manage compliance and create a culture where safe, high quality care matters most." 

Pro Tip: Lead with quality, and the rest follows. When you're continuously focused on reducing risk and improving patient safety, everything takes care of itself. 

Strategies for Survey Success

Know the Rules (and Share Them)

Helen regularly engages and educates the Center's physicians and staff about the regulatory standards. She also talks about how ESNY's processes and procedures meet them. 

"I hold meetings to ensure the team is well-versed in the rules, and we always talk about why we do what we do," Helen says. "This empowers the staff to speak up and hold each other to the highest standard of care," Helen adds. 

Helen also shares what it means to win. "When they see value in what we do, the team is motivated to work together and do their very best, every time," she says. 

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