Accreditation & Regulatory Journal
April 2024

The Mark of Distinction

How do you demonstrate to patients, payers, and your community that the care you render is truly a “cut above”?
How do you demonstrate to patients, payers, and your community that the care you render is truly a “cut above”?

Center of Excellence Designation

Center of Excellence (COE) designation means that your hospital meets evidence-based standards and performance outcomes that reflect high quality and safe patient care. Standards are based – in part – on federal regulations, recommendations by professional organizations and content experts, as well as performance metrics established by the National Quality Forum.
COE designation is currently offered in the following areas:
  • Long Term Acute Care
  • Nursing Services
  • Respiratory Therapy Services
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Emergency Care Services
  • Palliative care
  • Environmental Health & Safety

Disease Specific Certification

Disease specific certification (DSC) is designed to recognize the provision of evidence-based best practice to targeted patient populations.
DSC designation is currently offered in the following areas:
  • Acute Stroke Ready
  • Primary Stroke Center
  • Primary Heart Attack Center
  • Heart Failure
  • Joint Replacement Surgery
Research has conclusively shown that hospitals that consistently deliver evidence-based care;
  • Have better patient outcomes
  • Reduce the incidence of errors and adverse events
  • Reduce the overall cost of care
  • Have higher patient satisfaction

The Survey Process for Center of Excellence or Disease Specific Certification

To obtain a COE or DSC, a hospital must undergo a rigorous on-site survey. The survey is one or two days in length and is conducted by one of CIHQ’ senior surveyors – individuals who are specifically trained to accurately determine compliance to COE and/or DSC standards. The survey is announced and scheduled in coordination with the hospital.

Survey Activities

The survey itself consists of a mixture of document review (including required policies and performance data), and visits to targeted areas of the hospital. In addition, interviews with key leaders and a review of staff training records occurs.
Sample One Day Survey Agenda
  • 0830 to 0845: Welcome & Opening Conference
  • 0845 to 1030: Review of Requested Documents
  • 1000 to 1200: Tour of Work & Care Areas
  • 1200 to 1300: Lunch
  • 1300 to 1500: Medical Record Review as Applicable
  • 1500 to 1600: Staff Training & Education Review
  • 1600 to 1630: Surveyor Preparation Time
  • 1630               : Exit Conference

Duration Of Award

DSC and COE programs are awarded for a maximum of 36 months.
DSC and COE programs are available to any hospital regardless of their accreditor.


Fees are billed on an annual basis. Fees include surveys and surveyor travel expenses.
A COE/DSC designation fee for a CIHQ accredited organization is $2,500 annually.
A COE/DSC designation fee for a non-CIHQ accredited organization is $4,500 annually.

What Others are Saying!

Tyler ContinueCARE Hospital
“Tyler ContinueCARE Hospital has had the CIHQ Center of Excellence designation for three years. This designation of Center of Excellence for LTAC hospitals and now our new Center of Excellence for Respiratory Services has helped our hospital in staff recruitment and retention as well as physician confidence in the quality of care provided to their patients. These designations are very important to our hospital, and we appreciate that CIHQ has such an emphasis on quality.”
Stephanie Hyde, RN, MSN, Chief Executive Officer
Carson Tahoe Health
“Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center was awarded Disease Specific Certification as a Primary Stroke Hospital. It is important to our health system that we can provide the absolute best care to the members of our community. CIHQ provided direction and guidance from the beginning of our journey toward certification. Before our survey we utilized the ARS Mock Survey option, and the surveyors went beyond educating all members of the team with the knowledge needed for this designation. Our reaccreditation and certification survey occurred during the pandemic surge, yet the survey team never wavered in the process to complete our journey. We feel fortunate to have CIHQ as our partner in improving healthcare quality!”
Valerie Linke, System Licensing and Accreditation Analyst

For Further Information

Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality
Attn: Traci Curtis, Executive Director of Survey Operations
P.O. Box 3620
McKinney, TX 75070