Feedback comes in many forms—from the mother’s lips to a child, or from a restaurant reviewer’s keyboard to a chef—but there is one thing that remains constant. Everyone needs feedback.
The more paperwork-intensive, the more people avoid it. But no matter how uncomfortable receiving feedback may be, the complete lack of it is also unnerving—we succumb to easy complacency, or worse, we doubt our work and worry: “How are we doing?”
We at Advanced Vein Care Center are proud of the work we do. Since the beginning, we’ve been committed to the highest standards of patient interaction, surgical techniques, medical equipment, complication prevention, and objective self-monitoring. But, how well are we really doing? And, how valid is our self-assessment? There was no way to answer these questions objectively by ourselves.
Hence, over a year ago, we took action to answering these questions by subjecting our quality of care to external standards. We looked for the most current and strictest standards. We began to ready ourselves for submission of application to the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) which evaluates medical practices based on personnel, facilities, process, and monitoring of quality improvement. We initiated this process all on our own, self-motivated by quality assurance and true excellence.
Then, last January, the earth shifted under the feet of vein care specialists in the state of Massachusetts. A major healthcare insurance company, the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts sent out a letter requiring that within nine months all vein care centers must be accredited by the IAC to be able to treat their patients and be reimbursed. While the rest of the world were shocked, we were elated by the news since we were well on our way to full compliance and meeting their highest standards.
As of February this year, the IAC Vein Center division had accredited only one practice in New England (in Rhode Island). In March, within a month of submitting our application, we were granted a 1-year accreditation, pending a 3-year accreditation following a successful site-visit. We became the first practice in the state with that distinction.
In June, three IAC reviewers visited our office—combing through our policies & protocols, complications lists, and performing random-checks of patient records in our electronic medical records. They watched and evaluated how we performed our vein procedures, lasers, excisions, and ultrasound, and how we maintained patient confidentiality. It was a nerve-wrecking day, to say the least.
By the end of the day, however, our staff were smiling from ear to ear, as we received wonderful feedback from the reviewers. They confirmed what we had suspected all along—that the way we have been caring for our patients was a “model” for excellence, and that we should continue going “above and beyond” just what was required to pass as a vein center. Case in point: In our office there are four fully trained ultrasound sonographers to diagnose and help treat various vein conditions. This demonstrates our commitment to clinical excellence, as many vein specialists in the field have none to just one or two sonographers working full-time in their office.
In the end we received full accreditation for 3-years—becoming the second practice in New England and the first in Massachusetts to do so. Considering the high number of teaching hospitals and academic institutions in New England, this was a great honor. This also showed that Western Massachusetts does lead the region in some aspects of healthcare.
With pride and satisfaction aside as we move forward, the IAC accreditation does not change what we are. We have always been and still are a group of clinicians and administrative staff who care deeply about what we do. We strive to treat everyone like how we would like ourselves and our families and friends to be treated. We do want everyone to feel better and look better. This is what we are. IAC Accreditation was merely a validation.
My thanks to everyone at Advanced Vein Care Center. Patients and staff and all. Thank you.