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Practice Network Accreditation

Earlier this year, the AAHA Board of Directors approved a new model of accreditation designed to standardize management practices throughout the profession with an overall goal of enhancing patient health. This new model of accreditation is called practice network accreditation.

What exactly is practice network accreditation?

Practice network accreditation refers to the accreditation of a single parent company that owns practices within a practice network. To achieve practice network accreditation, the organization must have 90% of its practices accredited or preaccredited by AAHA, with a goal of having 100% of its practices accredited. Individual practices within a network go through the exact same process and accreditation evaluation as any other practice; these practices also incur the same fees.

While the individual practices within a network go through the same accreditation process and incur the same fees as independent practices, the parent company that owns the practices undergoes a different evaluation based on a new, separate set of standards AAHA has created specifically for companies that own practice networks. These standards cover areas such as HR, leadership, culture, and medical autonomy, and are designed to improve practice culture throughout the practice network by introducing consistency and best practices when it comes to practice management.

We are excited about practice network accreditation; by evaluating and accrediting a parent company, we believe we will help standardize best practices for management throughout corporate-owned hospitals.

We know you may have questions about this new accreditation designation; we have prepared short FAQs below to help answer any questions you may have.


How does practice network accreditation fit with AAHA’s strategic priorities?

A key strategic priority for AAHA is to promote positive workplace culture throughout the profession via the Healthy Workplace Culture Initiative. This new accreditation model supports this priority because practice culture standards are woven into the network accreditation standards. The practice culture standards outlined within the network standards will help promote positive workplace culture beyond individual practices. Additionally, to achieve practice network accreditation, the parent company agrees to work towards having 100% of their practices AAHA accredited; all these practices will be held to AAHA’s traditional standards of accreditation. Promoting excellence in veterinary medicine is a key part of AAHA’s mission.


What will be the first company accredited under practice network accreditation?

PetWell Partners will be the first company to receive practice network accreditation. Twenty-eight of PetWell’s 30 practices are already AAHA accredited under the traditional AAHA Standards of Accreditation; the remaining two practices have signed preaccreditation agreements.


Will more companies become accredited under practice network accreditation?

Yes. PetWell Partners will be the only company to hold the practice network accreditation designation for a period of 18 months. Other companies will be working toward practice network accreditation but will not actively begin the practice network accreditation process until after the 18-month period has passed.


How does a practice network become eligible for accreditation?

For a company to be eligible for accreditation, 90%+ of its practices must be AAHA accredited or preaccredited, and a network accreditation agreement must be signed. The ultimate goal is to have 100% of the network’s practices AAHA accredited. Practice network accreditation is designed for companies with centralized management systems and a dedicated Chief Medical Officer.


Is there a minimum number of practices that a practice network must own to qualify for practice network accreditation?

Yes. A practice network must own at least ten practices in order to be eligible for practice network accreditation.


What does the accreditation process look like for a practice network?

To become accredited as a practice network:

  • The company must sign an agreement with AAHA approximately 12 months in advance.
  • The company will be evaluated by AAHA; the company must meet a separate set of standards specifically written for practice network accreditation. These standards are tailored to management topics only (HR, leadership, culture, medical autonomy, etc.); there is no evaluation of medical practices at the network level, other than ensuring medical decisions are made by attending veterinarians.
  • Once a company receives practice network accreditation, it will be reevaluated annually and must continue to meet the practice network accreditation standards.

What standards are a practice network company evaluated on?

The practice network standards are different and separate from AAHA’s traditional practice standards. The practice network standards are non-medical in nature and cover HR, practice management, practice culture, financial management medical autonomy, marketing, and more.


Once the initial evaluation is complete, how do practice networks maintain their practice network accreditation?

The central office will be reevaluated on an annual basis to ensure continued compliance with the practice network accreditation standards.


Do practices within practice networks receive discounts on accreditation or other accommodations?

No. Practices under the practice network umbrella receive no discounts or special treatment compared to non-network practices. All accredited practices incur the same costs.


Can nonaccredited practices within an accredited practice network promote themselves as AAHA-accredited?

No. Only practices accredited under the traditional AAHA Standards of Accreditation may promote themselves as AAHA-accredited. Plus, 90%+ of the practices within a practice network must be AAHA accredited or preaccredited in order for that network to be eligible for practice network accreditation.


Will nonaccredited practices within an accredited practice network be displayed in the search results for the AAHA-Accredited Hospital Locator tool?

No. Only practices accredited under the traditional AAHA Standards of Accreditation will be displayed in the search results for the AAHA-Accredited Hospital Locator tool.


What does the traditional AAHA accreditation process look like for a practice within a practice network?

Individual practices within a network go through the exact same process and accreditation evaluation as practices outside of a network. All practices are evaluated on the same AAHA Standards of Accreditation and must meet the same requirements to achieve accreditation.


What happens if practices within a practice network do not achieve traditional AAHA accreditation?

A practice network must have a minimum of 90% of its hospitals accredited or preaccredited. If the network falls below the 90% accreditation requirement due to individual practices not achieving accreditation, the practice network will no longer have a practice network accreditation designation.


How do I pursue practice network accreditation?

Please email practice.accreditation@aaha.org to request an agreement and begin initial discussions.
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