In recent weeks, the JACIE Office has found it to be increasingly difficult to maintain the regular JACIE accreditation services while the situation in Europe and elsewhere remains unpredictable. Onsite visits place our volunteer inspectors at risk and by extension their patients, families, and colleagues. Furthermore, we have seen travel quarantine requirements change with little advance notice which threatens the inspectors’ ability to return to their workplace. Finally, we are finding that travel and hotel services are also amending or cancelling reservations which seriously undermines our arrangements.
Therefore, in the interest of the safety of our volunteers and centres, EBMT has decided to move onsite inspections to a remote or virtual format. By offering an alternative format, JACIE wants to keep centres on track towards accreditation during this emergency. This decision was endorsed by the EBMT Executive Committee members on 15th September and will be presented to the EBMT Board in mid-October.
JACIE has started preparing a process for conducting remote assessments. This change presents some challenges but it will help minimize the risk of further delays in the accreditation process while protecting the safety and health of inspectors and centres. The main actions being taken are:
- Gathering information – reading how similar organisations rolled-out remote assessments and talking to them to learn from their experience
- Drafting guideline(s) to explain the remote assessment process step-by-step
- Communications – we are contacting those centres who were already scheduled for an on-site inspection
- Survey of centres and inspectors – to establish their technical capacity to facilitate a remote assessment e.g. file-sharing, video-conferencing
- Technology – setting up a platform to support the process
- Establish the scope of the inspection – how many standards can be assessed through documentation and online interviews?
- Documents - what additional documentations should be requested from the centres to supplement those already supplied?
- Training – prepare users in the new format and tools
The first pilot centres will be approached later in October or early November and are likely to be the smaller, single-site processes in view of their relative simplicity. From there we will start to approach the other centres to request their participation along with the inspection teams. Centres will be asked to agree to this format before proceeding.
We are fortunate to be able to count on the expert feedback from the newly-formed Inspectors Committee who will asked to validate the proposed process and to provide other input. Furthermore, centres are already experiencing remote assessments by their competent authorities or other organisations so there is growing familiarity with the concept.
At this early point, we expect that a remote assessment will likely make some more demands on the centres and the inspectors in advance of the inspection in terms of providing and reviewing documentation. We do anticipate more coordination via videoconferencing which in turn could help to make the inspection more interactive. As we gain more experience, we will review the process to see where improvements could be made with a view to evaluating the longer-term impact on the process including outside of the pandemic context.
Overall, we are very confident that the experience will prove sufficient to permit centres to move forwards even under challenging circumstances.