Maroondah virtual accreditation a first for BreastScreen

BreastScreen Victoria CEO Terri Smith, NQMC Chair Dr Julie Thompson, Program Manager Michelle Clemson, and Darren Lockie, Director and Chief Radiologist at Maroondah BreastScreen, with staff and guests.

Maroondah BreastScreen is the first ever breast screening service in Australia to undergo an entirely virtual accreditation process under the BreastScreen Australia National Accreditation Standards (NAS).

Our services must be accredited to ensure our clients have a safe and high-quality experience when they visit for their breast screen. As part of this process, an interstate team of expert surveyors carry out a detailed survey visit every four years.

Maroondah BreastScreen prepared and was ready for their survey visit in March 2020 when the arrival of COVID-19 and following restrictions made clear that an in-person accreditation would not be possible. To carry out the survey, video walkthroughs and detailed photos were used alongside extensive videoconferencing. Online systems were also put in place to allow radiologists and radiographers to securely review breast screen images remotely.

The virtual accreditation has been an innovative response to COVID-19 restrictions. BreastScreen Australia's National Quality Management Committee (NQMC), alongside its National Surveyor Joan Burns, developed a way to undertake this important process wholly online by replicating parts of face-to-face survey visits. With surveyors usually travelling in from all parts of Australia, the newly developed process of virtual accreditation is paving the way for future accreditations to occur online, without the need for travel.

To mark the achievement of a first entirely virtual accreditation, NQMC Chair Dr Julie Thompson presented Certificates of Recognition to the services and the survey team at a special event at Maroondah BreastScreen. The success of this virtual accreditation also applies to screening clinics linked to Maroondah BreastScreen: Boronia; Yarra Ranges, Mont Albert, and Wangaratta.

Maroondah BreastScreen client and BreastScreen Victoria Consumer Representative Jenny Lane was involved in the accreditation and spoke to surveyors about her experience.

"My role in the Maroondah accreditation process was really to provide a consumer perspective, asking 'What would a consumer do? How would this make them feel?' Consumer feedback is critical to constantly improving processes and procedures," Jenny said. "It makes me feel very proud that BreastScreen Victoria is constantly reaching out and trying to improve the service for clients even with the pandemic moving things like the accreditation online. I was impressed by everything I've seen at Maroondah, and, having recently moved from Rosebud, I'm feeling really good about Maroondah becoming my new local clinic."

NQMC Chair Dr Julie Thompson.

Darren Lockie, Director and Designated Radiologist at Maroondah BreastScreen, said the service was prepared for accreditation back in 2020 before the start of the pandemic.

"Working virtually allowed us to successfully undergo accreditation whilst remaining COVID safe and compliant," Darren said. "It was a productive and collegiate collaboration involving many people across multiple jurisdictions."

BreastScreen Victoria CEO Terri Smith said that the virtual survey shows what is possible in this new era, with a new way of working post-COVID-19.

"Maroondah BreastScreen, along with our screening sites at Boronia, Yarra Ranges, Mont Albert and Wangaratta, now hold a special place in BreastScreen history as the first ever services to be accredited online, and we are so pleased with this successful outcome," Terri said. "Our clients can visit their local BreastScreen clinics with complete confidence, knowing they are at an accredited service, offering high standards of care."

The virtual survey would not have been possible without the enthusiastic staff at Maroondah BreastScreen and the Coordination Unit, as well as the survey team and the IT support from their home services.