It’s not uncommon for newly constructed or renovated health care facilities to face challenges with accreditation compliance after the transition from construction to operations. Because accreditation readiness is ultimately the responsibility of the facilities team, this discipline can sometimes fall outside the planning, design and construction (PDC) professional’s area of expertise.

The disparate functions of PDC and health care facilities management can make moving from construction to accreditation a challenge, and there are typically only two routes to go: Either the transition process is planned for success from the start of the project or the lack of planning becomes the weak link in the transition process.

The key to a compliant transition is assembling a unified leadership team with the purpose of achieving accreditation assurance through a collaborative approach. This group should be an active part of the PDC life cycle and remain active through the transition of the building from construction to operation.

Because a multidisciplinary group of individuals is vital during ongoing accreditation activities, their involvement is equally important during the PDC process and throughout the construction project. The multidisciplinary team should include facilities staff, engineers, consultants, clinicians, environmental services, environment of care committee personnel, safety officers, designers, contractors, quality management, infection preventionists and related departments as appropriate, based on the type of and extent of the project. While that list may seem daunting, having input from these individuals can make all the difference during the transition. 

Some organizations may find success in using internal staff to direct the team and manage that process, while others may seek to use outsourced transition and activation consultation. Whichever route is chosen, the team must be led through a comprehensive accreditation assurance program.

An article published in the November 2022 issue of Health Facilities Management, titled “Moving from PDC to accreditation,” and a session from the 2022 International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction called “Ready Day One – Bridging the PDC to Accreditation Gap” are excellent resources for strategies on successfully making the transition.

From reviews of life safety drawings and understanding the life safety and other mandatory codes and standards, to compliance rounds and merging commissioning documents with inspection, testing and maintenance documentation, successfully bridging the gap between PDC and accreditation is possible. Early planning and the use of a multidisciplinary team approach are the first steps to getting there.