Background and objectives: Accreditation is usually a voluntary program, in which trained external peer reviewers evaluate health care organization's compliance with pre-established performance standards. Interest in accreditation is growing in developing countries, but there is little published information on the challenges faced by new programs. In Saudi Arabia, the Central Board for Accreditation of Healthcare Institutions (CBAHI) was established to formulate and implement quality standards in all health sectors across the country. The objective of this study was to assess a developing accreditation program (CBAHI standards) against the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) principles to identify opportunities for improvement of the CBAHI standards.
Methods: A qualitative appraisal and assessment of CBAHI standards was conducted using the published ISQua principles for accreditation standards.
Results: The CBAHI standards did not describe the process of development, evaluation or revision of the standards. Several standards are repetitive and ambiguous. CBAHI standards lack measurable elements for each standard. CBAHI standards met only one criterion (11.1%) of the Quality Improvement principle, two criteria (22.2%) of Patient/Service User Focus principle, four criteria (40%) of the Organizational Planning and Performance principle, the majority (70%) of the criteria for the safety principle, only one criteria (7.1%) for the Standards Development principle, and two criteria (50%) of the Standards Measurement principle.
Conclusions: CBAHI standards need significant modifications to meet ISQua principles. New and developing accreditation programs should be encouraged to publish and share their experience in order to promote learning and improvement of local accreditation programs worldwide.