Why do preventive cardiology centres need accreditation? Professor Diederick Grobbee (University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands), European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) Past President and Deputy Chair of the Education Committee in charge of accreditation, is quick to explain:
“Over the past few decades, preventive cardiology has migrated from the peripheral boundaries of cardiology to a key central element. With the greater appreciation that prevention is essential to managing the global cardiovascular disease burden comes the need to ‘professionalise’ and solidify preventive cardiology in all its forms – setting standards can help with this. We have strict requirements for our recommendations, but there can be a gap between guidelines and implementation. The accreditation scheme involves having a set of common standards to assure a minimum level of guideline-based quality for the benefit of all those who use the facilities. Patients can trust that they will receive the best preventive care available and health professionals will have a benchmark to which they can orientate themselves. Performance is being assessed based on indicators related to the centre’s infrastructure and equipment, the organisation of care and the qualifications of staff.
A pilot scheme was launched in six sites across three categories: secondary prevention and cardiac rehabilitation, sports cardiology, and cardiovascular risk management and prevention. The pilot phase met our expectations and we were able to make some adjustments having tested the system and taken into account the views of those working in the field.”
“There has been a lot of enthusiasm for the scheme – I hope accreditation will grow substantially and we will soon have many standardised centres across the whole of Europe.”
Centres, departments or outpatient clinics providing cardiovascular risk prevention in an ESC Member or ESC Affiliated Cardiac Society country can now apply for accreditation via the EAPC website. Two reviewers will assess the centre and if standards are acceptable, an accreditation certificate will be granted for three years.
Endorsing the new system, EAPC President, Professor Paul Dendale (Heart Centre Hasselt, Belgium), says, “The accreditation scheme is an important step for our association. We have worked hard over the years to help formulate guidelines, promote research and organise courses, conferences and online education. But audits show that, despite the huge amount of knowledge available, the quality of preventive cardiology care can still improve. For this, we need centres that perform to the highest standards that patients can expect.”
He concludes, “I am really excited to see that the accreditation scheme has taken off so well – we will strive to make it a ‘badge of honour’ for centres of excellence in preventive cardiology. The next step for our association is to put in place a system of individual certification in preventive cardiology to close the quality loop.”