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URAC Releases Revised Standards For Nine Health Care Management Accreditation Programs

2008-08-13 13:43:00

    Changes include new health literacy standard across all health care

management programs

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 /EMWNews/ -- URAC's Board of

Directors has approved comprehensive revisions to nine of the

organization's health care management accreditation programs. The changes

include additions to URAC's Core Standards that address the need for

greater consumer empowerment and health care transparency. The Core

Standards are foundational standards for organizational quality that are a

part of all of URAC's health care management accreditation programs.


    In addition to changes to Core Accreditation, URAC's Board approved

revised standards for Independent Review Organization, Disease Management,

Health Utilization Management, Workers' Compensation Utilization

Management, Health Call Center, Credentials Verification Organization,

Claims Processing and Consumer Education and Support accreditation


    "The Core Standards help organizations define quality systems and set

the framework for continuous quality improvement," said Douglas Metz, DC,

chairman of URAC's Health Standards Committee and chief health services

officer for American Specialty Health. "The new standards both advance the

consumer focus in health care management and continue to raise the bar on

organizational quality improvement efforts. The standards reflect

significant input and recommendations from policy and corporate leaders

across the health care management stakeholder spectrum."

    The new standards support consumer empowerment through an emphasis on

health care literacy. The Health Standards Committee met numerous times to

ensure that this and other major health care policy issues were addressed

in the revised standards, and consulted focus groups that included industry

experts and other stakeholders.

    Information is key to empowering consumers to manage their own health

care, yet it is often difficult for consumers to find in a format that is

easy to understand. The introductory health literacy standard now included

in URAC's Core Standards requires organizations to:

    -- Put consumer materials in plain language;

    -- Assess the use of plain language in consumer documents; and

    -- Provide information and guidance on health literacy to staff who

write consumer materials.

    In addition, URAC's new Disease Management Standards include a

requirement for accredited organizations to establish a framework that

systematically provides the right information at the right time to the

consumer. The standard calls for accredited organizations to:

    -- Have a plan addressing the delivery of health information to


    -- Proactively provide accurate, comprehensive information that is easy

to use; and

    -- Evaluate consumer health information for accuracy and

appropriateness for the population served.

    "URAC's new disease management information therapy standards send an

important message that high-quality, chronic care management requires a

patient-centered approach," said Joshua Seidman, Ph.D., president of the

not-for-profit Center for Information Therapy (

"These standards set an important quality bar for disease management; for

DM to work, it must be supported by the proactive delivery of information

targeted to a consumer's moment in care and tailored to his or her

individual needs."

    The revised Core Standards also address issues in health care designed

to promote greater efficiency in the health care system, such as support

for interoperable health information technology. New standards also require

the use of national quality measures, where they exist, as benchmarks for

quality improvement projects.

    Important clarifications were made for the Independent Review

Organization Accreditation standards regarding compliance with state and

federal law and credentials for clinical peer reviewers, an important

aspect of ensuring the quality of independent review decisions. Standards

relative to timelines were tightened to reflect current industry practice

and expectations.

    URAC released draft standards to the public in April, inviting the

industry and interested parties to provide input. Hundreds responded,

representing employer groups, consumers, providers and government entities.

They weighed in with comments, clarifications and enhancements relevant to

the changes occurring in health care today.

    "URAC's standards revision process relies on the active participation

of industry stakeholders and an engaged public," said Alan P. Spielman,

URAC's president and chief executive officer. "Our goal is to protect and

empower consumers and to continuously raise the quality bar through

accreditation and education programs. The new standards for health care

management organizations support greater transparency and industry trends

that are on track to improve both efficiency and overall quality."

    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,


    Contact: Karla Hurter

    Phone: (703)319-0957

    [email protected]

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