Center for Improvement in Healthcare Quality Newsletter
September 2021

Disease Specific Certification

How do you demonstrate to patients, payers, and your community that the care you render is truly a “cut above”?
Disease specific certification (DSC) is designed to recognize the provision of evidence-based best practice to targeted patient populations. DSC programs are available to any hospital regardless of their accreditor.
DSC is currently offered in the following areas:
  • Acute Stroke Ready
  • Primary Stroke Center
  • Thrombectomy Capable Stroke Center
  • Comprehensive Stroke Center
  • Heart Failure
  • Joint Replacement Surgery

The Survey Process

In order to obtain disease specific certification, a hospital must undergo a rigorous on-site survey. The survey is one or two days in length and is conducted by one CIHQ’ senior surveyors – Individuals who are specifically trained to accurately determine compliance to 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 as Applicable
1600 to 1630: Surveyor Preparation Time
1630: Exit Conference
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

Duration of Award

DSC designation is awarded for a maximum of 36 months


Fees are billed on an annual or quarterly basis as preferred by the organization. Fees include surveys and surveyor travel expenses.
  • A DSC designation fee for a CIHQ accredited organization is $2,500 annually.
  • A DSC designation fee for a non-CIHQ accredited organization is $4,500 annually

For Further Information

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

"Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center was recently awarded Disease Specific Certification as a Primary Stroke Hospital. It is important to our health system that we are able to 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 above and beyond educating all members of the team with the knowledge needed for this designation.
Our reaccreditation and certification survey occurred in the midst of 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
Carson Tahoe Health