« Perhaps Accenture’s Surveyed Consumers So Willing To Share Healthcare Data Should Read Accenture’s CyberSecurity Survey Report | Main | Peter Kongstvedt on the Amazon Healthmarket, Coming Soon to an Alexa Near You »

Five Questions for Patrick Horine, CEO DNV GL Healthcare: Post-Webinar Interview

By Claire Thayer, March 2, 2018

This week, Patrick Horine, CEO DNV GL Healthcare, participated in a Healthcare Web Summit webinar panel discussion on Leveraging Hospital Accreditation for Continuous Quality Improvement webinar. If you missed this informative webinar presentation, watch the On-Demand version here. After the webinar, we interviewed Patrick on five key takeaways from the webinar:

1. What is ISO 9001 and how is this closely related to strategic goals for hospitals?

Patrick Horine: Goals are just goals unless there are objectives in place to be measured and met to achieve them.   The ISO 9001 quality management system (QMS) is the means for managing the objective to determine the needs of and desires for customers.    The ISO 9001 QMS is customer focused and to ultimately enhance patient satisfaction.    Engaged employees means more patient satisfaction.   Enhance patient satisfaction increase HCAHPS scores.   Increased HCAHPS scores are what provide the financial and reputational incentives for hospitals.    Given the current challenges with reimbursement and the competitive climate it is imperative for hospitals to ensure the patient experience and satisfaction is best as it can be.  Quality objectives are at every level of the organization.  They may apply broadly across the organization or more narrowly.   The goal may be the result but there are a lot of contributors to ensure the goal is attained.    Quality objectives are specified and aligned with the goals to enable the measuring and monitor of progress to evaluate progress.

2. What are some of the benefits and challenges associated with implementing ISO 9001?

Patrick Horine: In short, I would note the following:

  • Improving consistency
  • Added accountability
  • Increasing efficiency
  • Engagement of Staff

What drove us to consider integrating this within the accreditation process was because the hospitals we were working with could make improvements or address compliance but they had a more difficult time sustaining what they put in place.    ISO 9001 requires such things as internal auditing and management review are two of the most impactful aspects for the ISO 9001 requirements.  

Through these internal audits and then reflecting the success of the actions taken with the management reviews will lead to more consistent practices through the organization.   It is not uncommon see multiple versions of similar policies all throughout the hospital.  Are they really different?   Likely not, so reducing these to one practice will improve consistency.    I often ask groups “How many of you think you follow your policies and procedures exactly as they are written?”   Rarely, if ever, would you see anyone state they did.   So, if we don’t then why do we have them?   If we need to have them, as we really do, then they should be written, communicate, implemented and measured to ensure they are being consistently followed.   Without fail, doing so will lead to better results in some manner.

Simplification and consistent processes lead to more efficient operations of the hospital.   Hospitals or any organization for that matter that considers the quality management to be an integral part of their business operations will commonly achieve more efficiency than those that do not.

Gaining this understanding of the processes and getting to the efficiency is not possible without the involvement of those closest to them.    As an organization, if we strive to improve every day, it is imperative that the staff are engaged so they can be directly involved to improve their work to be more satisfied with what they do and their contribution to the success of the organization.   

Happy wife = Happy life, the same holds true with Happy employees = Happier patients.    Those who are more involved with improving of the processes they work with are happier and more engaged employees. Engaged employees are more productive when they are identifying improvements to be made and how to go about making them.  


  • Culture not conducive to change
  • Making it more complicated than it needs to be
  • Too many details

Can an organization implement ISO 9001 overnight?  No.   This is something that will leadership commitment, engagement of staff, willingness to be self-critical, ability to break with traditional thinking.    More easily described, the culture of the organization must be such that you are open to change, making improvements and have patience to know the quality management system will mature over time.   

What seems to be more universal thinking among us healthcare people, if it is not difficult then we will find a way to make it so somehow.    In my opinion, I think the ISO 9001 standard has evolved with each revision to be more and more befitting to healthcare than other industry sectors.    Process thinking, sequence and interactions, risk-based, competence of staff, customer expectations and satisfaction.   It fits.   We have much of what ISO requires already in place but still some work to be done.   This does not require wholesale changes so we don’t have to make it more difficult.   What is working and what is not working is a critical step because we must understand where improvements or change need to be made.  

Like I mentioned, policies and procedures are rarely followed exactly as they are written, but some are written as works of literature with elaborate detail.   Simplify, a 30-page policy is more effective when adapted to a 2-page work instruction.   More likely that one would read it, better opportunity for it to be consistently applied.    That is not to say that some we rid ourselves of all policies and procedures but rather don’t add complexity to what we already have and ask what we need to really keep.   

3. How does ISO 9001 hold hospitals accountable for meeting CMS requirements?

Patrick Horine: ISO 9001 itself does not address the CMS Conditions of Participation (CoPs).    All hospitals are accountable for compliance if they want to bill and be reimbursed under Medicare & Medicaid.   All CMS approved accreditation organizations must develop standards that meet or exceed the CMS CoPs.  Some choose to have more extraneous requirements, others apply the minimum.   DNV GL Healthcare wanted to have a standard that would meet the CoPs but we have integrated the ISO 9001 to the accreditation process and made this a requirement for hospitals under our program.  Compliance to the CMS requirements should be the by-product of a good quality management system and this is where ISO 9001 can be most effective. 

The ISO 9001 helps organizations have a more robust quality management system in place where compliance should be more of a by-product then the end goal.   Our thinking was that hospitals are often not complying with the minimum requirements to be met and these are what are fundamental to the organization to have provide safe and effective care.    To be more consistent meeting the fundamental requirements is the first challenge.   Going beyond, rather than more prescriptive requirements, the CoPs can be the parameters and the organization can me innovative to put practices in place.  We can still hold the hospital accountable meeting the CoP and then see how they demonstrate the effectiveness and outcomes of what they have in place.  

4. While the accreditation process for hospitals is part of Medicare / CMS program requirements, are there any plans to accredit hospital labs, physician clinics, or long term care organizations?

Patrick Horine: We currently have CMS deeming authority for acute care and critical access hospitals.   Next, we will complete the process for securing deeming authority for Psychiatric Hospitals and then Ambulatory Surgery Centers.   Most likely will not purse approval under CLIA for laboratories, but always possible.   There is desire to be more certification programs with physician/medical clinics and other providers.   Presently these would be self-governed as there is no deeming authority for such medical offices nor long term care.   I believe additional quality measures and oversight would make an impact in these environments.

5. How is DNV GL different from the Joint Commission and are there other accrediting organizations?

Patrick Horine: The more evident differences would be:

  • Annual surveys vs. once every 3 years
  • Less prescriptive standard more closely aligned to the CoPs – but inclusive of some additional requirements as well as maintaining compliance with ISO 9001
  • Demeanor of our surveyors
  • No types of accreditation; preliminary denial, conditional accreditation, double secret probation

It is better to describe those differences as told to us by those we have accredited, so I will use some of their quotes;

 “With DNV GL the surveys have been more meaningful and more consistent”

  • “It is nice get away from an inspection oriented approach but still be thorough”
  • “DNV GL is not easy but is easier to get along with”
  • “We have appreciated more of a collaborative process rather disciplinary one”
  • “We want to learn from the surveyors and how we can do better”
  • “The annual surveys help keep us focused on compliance and we do less getting ready for surveys”

“Doing things for the right reason not because of … have to”

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>