Have questions? Here are some responses to common questions asked of us before and during the NAAMTA auditing process.
The costs associated with medical transport accreditation are quite minimal considering the benefits we offer. In addition to a registration fee of $750 to determine your organization's eligibility for medical transport accreditation, Alliance members pay an annual fee and renewal fee every three years that depends on the size of the applying organization.
The process of medical accreditation can take a great deal of time when also trying to juggle the affairs of an ongoing EMS organization. The time given to first-time applicants is twice the length as renewing applicants due to the need to establish written processes and documentation in compliance to our standards, whereas renewing organizations should already have those measures in place. The following is a breakdown of the typical amount of time it takes to apply for NAAMTA accreditation as a first-time and renewing applicant:
- First-time Applicants: 12 months
- Renewing Applicants: 6 months
The time frames for each are the maximum allowable time given to applicants. Should an application take longer than a year, the applying medical transport organization will need to reapply for accreditation to restart the application time frame. Renewing applicants who fail to submit their application prior to the end of their accreditation period risk losing accreditation during the full audit process.
The standards set forth by state and federal entities establish a foundation of performance for medical transport organizations to strive toward. Companies seeking accreditation set themselves apart from the rest of the industry by their observance of the basic standards and their ability to meet an even higher level of performance. Air, water, and ambulance accreditation programs are built upon a foundation of best practices on a global level, meaning any organization that achieves accreditation is part of an elite group of professionals capable of competing internationally.
NAAMTA aspires to be an example to the medical transport industry by establishing an underlying value system whereby standards are developed, defined, monitored, and enforced. To accomplish this, we commit to the following:
- Provide accreditation standards built on industry best practices, state and federal regulations, and other regulatory agency guidelines relating to transport safety and quality of patient care.
- Incorporate quality management system practices that help organizations monitor and evaluate their own processes for continuous improvement.
- Deliver tools and services that aid organizations to acquire and maintain accreditation.
- Fair and consistent auditing processes.
- Provide an open forum for best practices and updates on the changing regulatory landscape for medical transport services.
Enforcement of Standards
Where individual accreditation organizations like NAAMTA truly differ from entities like the CAA or FAA is the methods of enforcement. These federal bodies lack the resources to regularly monitor EMS compliance to state requirements. Individually-run organizations like NAAMTA possess the measures needed to ensure medical transport providers remain compliant with requirements set at the state and federal levels.
Quality of Service
As a resulting impact of NAAMTA’s standards, our Alliance members are much more responsible, accountable, and transparent in their dealings. Not only are these pre-hospital professionals well-trained and credentialed, but vehicles are adequately maintained and stocked with the resources needed for patient care. The organizations we accredit and associate with have detailed recordkeeping and thus improved claims processing and reimbursement procedures, resulting in a lower insurance liability.
NAAMTA-accredited organizations strive toward being the best at what they do and have implemented quality improvement plans. As part of NAAMTA’s processes, organizations fill out quarterly and annual reports to demonstrate their continued compliance with the standards set by NAAMTA and their efforts at quality management and improvement. By placing an emphasis on improvement and accountability through accreditation, we take a very active role in enabling EMS organizations to succeed and impact the quality of patient care.
Accreditation isn’t an exclusive club intended only for larger and higher-revenue businesses. We believe organizations of all sizes stand to benefit from the accreditation offered by NAAMTA, because every transport company affects the medical transport industry as a whole. Small medical transport companies find themselves competing with larger and more-established transport organizations, which means they need to level the playing ground by pursuing accreditation.
When standardization is outlined and easily accessible and monitored, any organization is able to compete for business no matter their size. NAAMTA’s model of accreditation works for all sizes of operation because the same standard of excellence is needed globally.
The standards set as part of the NAAMTA accreditation program are intended to not only improve the functions of the medial transport organization, but also improve the overall patient experience. When an EMS provider strives to achieve a higher level of safety and performance, patients benefit greatly in so many different ways.
Patients will notice the following attributes of accredited organizations:
- Adequately-trained medical transport professionals capable of ensuring patient safety and recovery
- Well-maintained vehicles for safe and speedy transport to hospital
- Higher-perceived level of quality in service and safety
- Increased levels of accountability from the medical transport provider in giving details about the transport to the insurance provider
- Compliance with the standards of accreditation will ultimately lead to more positive patient feedback and additional business opportunities.
This is a very unfortunate scenario that negatively impacts multiple parties. While NAAMTA is not an accident investigation organization, we must still be involved in the discovery process for uncovering the cause of the accident. As such incidents are commonly indicative of inadequate training, poor vehicle maintenance, or simple human error, we must identify the problem point for accreditation status assessment.
Reporting accidents and incidents enables us to evaluate the event and implement corrective actions for future transports.
- The affected organization should contact IAAA/NAAMTA within 10 days after alerting the proper authorities, such as the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
- IAAA/NAAMTA will follow the event evaluation of the regulatory agency.
Note: The medical transport organization’s membership and accreditation status will remain in full effect pending the results of the evaluation.
- Once a determination is established by the regulatory agency, we will review the ruling and assess a course of action for the organization’s accreditation status.
NAAMTA reserves the right to examine NTSB, FAA, or local authority’s rulings as to the cause of the accident. Accreditation and membership status will be reviewed after analyzing cause of accident. A supplemental audit may be required to continue accreditation.
This is one of many areas that set NAAMTA apart as a unique accreditation organization. Whereas other companies might be regulated solely by a board of directors or a similarly-internal body, NAAMTA’s accountability is also regulated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In 2012, we became an ISO 9001:2008 certified Quality Management System (QMS).
NAAMTA pursued this certification due to the structure, transparency, and continuity it demonstrates to the companies we audit. It not only makes us accountable for NAAMTA’s processes, but also benefits our level of service in the following ways:
- Improves competitive advantage
- Ensures that processes are consistent
- Establishes a quality culture of continuous improvement
- Evaluates the effectiveness of current processes
- Institutes oversight to NAAMTA’s ISO-certified auditors
- Provides ways to detect and correct errors or issues
Gaining ISO 9001 certification helps set NAAMTA apart from other accreditation organizations as one that can prove true program transparency as well as guarantee a dedication to our own expected standards of performance. It not only makes NAAMTA accountable for its processes, but also benefits our members.
The phrase, “Say what you do, and do what you say,” best describes ISO 9001 certification. The most compelling benefit of ISO 9001 certification for an accrediting organization is that any company can reap the rewards offered through this higher standard of performance, much like the organizations that seek accreditation through NAAMTA.
The ISO 9001:2008 certification eliminates variances to the levels of service provided and the processes followed as an accreditation organization. Each process pertaining to the accreditation in its entirety is thus documented, allowing NAAMTA to guarantee the same standard of service to each organization it audits, regardless of prior accreditations.
Accountability and reliability are necessary attributes to any medical transport accreditation program, and NAAMTA is no different in its delivery. By receiving the ISO 9001:2008 QMS certification, we have the resources and processes necessary to obtain and demonstrate a higher standard of performance throughout the auditing phase as well as between audits. NAAMTA isn’t just a form of accreditation; we're a resource for the betterment of the industry and your organization through learning center resources, medical transport reporting tools, and daily support.
NAAMTA is founded upon the principles of quality management. Quality and utilization management reinforce our unofficial motto of “continuous improvement.” Due to NAAMTA being an ISO 9001:2008 certified QMS, this has enabled us to establish countless processes as part of the certification process that enable us to measure and manage quality internally.
The process behind effective quality management is planning, doing, checking, and acting. This effectively creates a cyclical process of improvement where NAAMTA is always observing its own efficiency and improving upon it actively in some of the following ways:
- We document all processes to establish a correct method of completing a task or using an internal document and tracking all changes that occur.
- As part of their efforts to maintain ISO 9001:2008 compliance and manage internal efficiency, we perform quarterly internal audits of processes to identify inefficiencies and improve upon them.
- Our web tools allow us to track and monitor data trends and file usage to analyze for possible points of improvement.
NAAMTA Accreditation is given in three-year increments. From the official date of awarding until three years after, an organization's accreditation status is considered active.
NAAMTA Accreditation expires three years from the date of the initial awarding. This means organizations applying for renewal of their accreditation status must begin the application process once more prior to the status expiration. As the renewal process typically takes a total of six months, you should expect to begin the accreditation process anew two and a half years after receiving accreditation. Any lapse in time between renewing and the expiration of accreditation is considered a period of non-coverage.