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URAC Invites Health Management Industry, Public for Comments on Changes to Its Core Accreditation Standards
Date:2/28/2008

Changes in standards support Department of Health and Human Services' "Four Cornerstones" for health care improvement

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today URAC called for comments on major revisions to its Core Accreditation standards. The Core standards are the foundation of URAC accreditation, addressing key organizational functions within health care organization such as staff qualifications, oversight of delegated activities, quality management and consumer protection.

(LOGO: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030501/URACLOGO)

URAC is seeking input from any interested parties, including purchasers, policy makers, consumers, health care management organizations and health plans. The deadline for public comment is April 14, 2008.

URAC's Health Standards Committee reviewed and revised the standards now open for public comment. Changes to Core Version 2.1 accreditation standards include assigning weights to each standard element according to refined weight categories, a reorganization of the standards designed to clarify which standards apply to various types of applicants, and a focus on protecting and empowering the consumer through a new standard emphasizing health care literacy.

New policy concepts are introduced in the Core standards to address key issues in health care including two of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services "Four Cornerstones" for health care improvement. Quality standards require the use of national quality measures, where they exist, as benchmarks for their quality improvement projects. Interoperable health information technology is introduced as well to promote greater efficiency in the health care system.

"The Core Standards define key and foundational principles upon which a quality system is based," said Douglas Metz, DC, chairman of URAC's Health Standards Committee and chief health services officer for American Specialty Health. "The current standards revision cycle is focused on two primary and important aspects of the health care system. First, the advancement of standards that support consumer health and welfare, and second, updating standards and the interpretive guide to acknowledge significant changes within the health care system."

The standards are available for review at http://www.urac.org. URAC strongly prefers to receive comments through the online comment form available at http://webapps.urac.org/urac_public_comment/core.html. Alternately, comments may be submitted by email (comments@urac.org); by mail (URAC, Attn: Public Comments, 1220 L Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20005); or may be faxed to (202) 216-9006. Please note that submissions received through a method other than the online comment form should include the following information: 1) the product name; 2) the standard abbreviation and number; 3) comment classification (standard or weight); and 4) comments.

"These standards updates are being made with stakeholder input; public comment recommendations are critical to the standards development process," Metz said. "Every comment is reviewed by the committee in the updating process."

All comments submitted by the deadline will be considered prior to final changes to the standards. Revisions will be submitted to URAC's Board of Directors for final approval at the end of July, 2008, and applications will be accepted under the revised standards starting Jan. 1, 2009.

About URAC

URAC, an independent, nonprofit organization, is well-known as a leader in promoting health care quality through its accreditation and education programs. URAC offers a wide range of quality benchmarking programs and services that keep pace with the rapid changes in the health care system, and provide a symbol of excellence for organizations to validate their commitment to quality and accountability. Through its broad-based governance structure and an inclusive standards development process, URAC ensures that all stakeholders are represented in establishing meaningful quality measures for the entire health care industry. For more information, visit http://www.urac.org.


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