The Domingos File
- President and chief executive officer of Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), Cary, N.C.
- Vice president of marketing and business development for ACHC.
- Global group director for Tripath, women’s cervical cancer diagnostics division, Becton Dickinson Diagnostics, Durham, N.C.
- Business unit director, Teleflex Incorporated, Wayne, Pa.
- Director of marketing for the surgical division, Teleflex Incorporated, Wayne, Pa.
- Current board member for the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy.
- Previous chief executive program group member for Vistage executive coaching.
- California Institute of Technology, in-house course on “How to do business in China.”
- Pennsylvania State University, associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering technology.
Last fall’s announcement that the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) would merge with the parent company of the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) signaled a major change in the health care accreditation field. This month, HFM talks about it with José Domingos, ACHC’s president and CEO.
What is your background, and when did you join ACHC?
I joined ACHC in 2011 as vice president of marketing and business development. I assumed the role of chief executive officer a year later. Prior to that, I had held several positions focused on bringing diagnostic and surgical products to the global marketplace. Much of my time in earlier roles was spent in hospital and laboratory settings. That experience gave me an understanding of the critical role that accreditation could play. While ACHC is certainly focused on helping organizations improve clinical outcomes through safe, high-quality patient care, we also understand that efficient and effective operational practices make that patient-centered goal sustainable. We partner with the providers we serve to meet the needs of their entire organization from multiple points of view — operationally, from risk and quality management perspectives, and through clinical performance improvement.
What have been some of your priorities since arriving at ACHC?
Customers are looking for comprehensive, cost-effective solutions. My mission was for ACHC to be prepared to provide that comprehensive solution serving the entire continuum of care, and my first priority was to strengthen how ACHC functioned internally. We needed to establish a solid foundation to meet our plans for future growth.
Providing exceptional customer service, a talent pool of thought leaders in the field, financial long-term stability, an expanding list of program offerings, well-trained surveyors who are consistent in interpretation of standards, and a partner mentality in how we treat customers leads to the kind of growth ACHC is experiencing and results in a formula that will have a significant impact with regard to what providers should expect of their accreditor.
We expect as much of ourselves as we do of our customers. We are ISO 9001:2015 certified, which requires us to hone our expertise in operational excellence and undergo annual third-party audits to match our customer’s accreditation experience.
What was the reason for the merger between ACHC and HFAP’s parent company, the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care?
Expanding ACHC program offerings to include hospital, surgery center and laboratory accreditation has been one of my priorities since assuming the role in 2012. In fact, ACHC was in the process of developing these standards, but this is a lengthy process.
I met Meg Gravesmill, who was leading HFAP, through interactions facilitated by regular meetings of the accrediting organizations with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) deeming authority. She and I came to realize that our organizations were very similar culturally and in the educational philosophy that guides how we approach the accreditation process. Both organizations aim to build strong relationships with customers, and we use the data we collect not only to respond but to anticipate their needs. Those relationships allow us to further validate which new programs or products will be most beneficial.
This alignment of approach got us thinking about the possibility of joining forces. Both of our boards were enthusiastic about the idea, and CMS approved the plan so that none of our existing deemed status customers would experience an interruption or change in their accreditation. Now we are poised to meet the accreditation and certification needs for the full range of services offered by any health care provider. We believe this historic merger will be a game-changer — health care providers have the viable option of a true partner in quality improvement through accreditation.
How would you characterize the types of facilities that are under ACHC and HFAP?
ACHC has always been “for providers, by providers,” leveraging expertise in community-based services like home health agencies, private duty nursing, home infusion therapy, hospice, durable medical equipment/home medical equipment, behavioral health and others. HFAP brings a proven track record of accreditation experience in hospitals (i.e., acute care, long-term acute care and critical access), ambulatory surgery centers, clinical laboratories and office-based surgery as well as program-specific recognition through certification of stroke care, wound care, joint replacement and lithotripsy. Combined, we aim to cover the full continuum of care.
What will the combined organization look like, and how would you differentiate it from other accreditation organizations?
HFAP is now a brand under ACHC. Its 75-year history is important to highlight even as we grow jointly as a new entity. There was very little overlap in our respective programs. The only areas we shared were behavioral health and compounding pharmacy accreditation. The standards for these programs are being compared, and our plan is to combine the best aspects of each as we move forward. HFAP’s compounding pharmacy program will be consolidated under the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board brand, a merger that occurred in 2014 and is now considered the industry benchmark domestically and internationally.
As I said, we shared a great deal culturally, so existing customers will see business as usual. All the HFAP personnel have become part of the ACHC family. The primary relationships established with customers remain intact, so that transition is seamless. But there are significant infrastructure benefits to being part of a larger organization, and this will lead to greater depth of knowledge and resources for programs within each legacy organization. We’re looking for synergies and capitalizing on the added expertise. Our differentiators are what they have always been: superb customer service and a focus on a positive survey experience that adds value while reducing organizational risk and liability.
What are your next priorities for ACHC and HFAP?
Internal priorities include completing the integration of our staffs and systems. In some ways, the COVID-19 public health emergency has made this easier. Everyone is quite comfortable working remotely, and it has demonstrated that we can not only survive but thrive in this work environment. That means having a group of staff in Chicago, where HFAP is based, and another group in Cary, N.C., where ACHC is based, presents no impediment to moving forward. On the other hand, we are really looking forward to opportunities to be together.
A second set of priorities relates to growth. I would describe the HFAP team as “small but mighty.” They’ve managed a large number of programs for a long time by wearing multiple hats. Now, working within an expanded infrastructure, those programs will have room to breathe and grow, and we’ll be making investments to promote focused excellence for each of them individually.
I am also working on another merger that will catapult our ability to serve some of the segments I have mentioned. There is more to come on that.