Designation Process

Planetree Designation Process Overview

In order to achieve designation as a “Planetree Designated® Patient-Centered Hospital,” “Planetree Designated® Resident-Centered Community” or “Planetree Designated® Client-Centered Organization,” an applicant organization must undergo a rigorous process to verify that it has met the designation criteria.  The following chart outlines each step of the designation process.



Phase I: Preparation, Self-Evaluation and Application

Step 1: Contact Planetree Prior to Completing Designation Self-Assessment

The site contacts Planetree’s designation staff at 203-732-1365 to initiate the designation process.  It is important to make this contact early in the process so that Planetree staff members may provide a thorough overview of the designation program, answer any questions regarding the designation criteria and/or the self-assessment process, clarify what information will need to be submitted with the application, and inform the site of any recent or impending changes to the criteria.

Step 2: Complete Self Assessment Tool

The site conducts an evaluation of its current operations using the Self-Assessment Tool.  The Self-Assessment Tool includes questions to answer, as well as requests for documentation to demonstrate implementation of specific criteria.  There are no formatting requirements.  The site is required to submit one hard copy of the application, as well as an electronic version.

In completing this self-assessment, sites should keep in mind that in order for a practice or approach to satisfy the designation criteria, it must be in practice for at least six months before the on-site designation assessment.  This six-month guideline allows the time necessary for new programs and practices to take root within the organization.  In addition, since designation site assessment focus groups will be populated with either current residents or patients discharged within the past 3-6 months, it is important that the program was in place during their care experience so that they can speak about it. Therefore, a site visit will not be scheduled unless the application demonstrates that the six month requirement has been met for each criterion.

This six month guideline refers to newly introduced programs.  In the spirit of encouraging ongoing program enhancement, this requirement does not limit a site from applying if a previously existent program has been, or is in the process of being, enhanced.

Step 3: Submit Application for Designation, Self Assessment Tool, all Supporting Documentation and Application Fee

Upon determining that the self-assessment indicates a readiness to proceed in the application process, the site submits to Planetree a signed Application for Designation, and the completed Self-Assessment Tool with all the required supporting documents in an electronic format.  For the ease of review by the Designation Committee, all application materials must be supplied in English.  This should be accompanied by the Designation Application Fee.

 * These should be submitted a minimum of two full months before the two-month time frame in which it is requesting a site visit.

Phase II: Application Review and Site visit

Step 4: Review Application with Planetree Staff

Upon receiving a site’s completed self-assessment, an internal review of the documentation is completed by Planetree staff.  The intent of this internal review is to verify the site’s readiness to progress further in the designation process and to identify and clarify any potential issues that emerge as possible impediments to attainment of designation status.

A conference call is scheduled between Planetree and the applicant organization’s designation point person(s) to discuss the application.  During this call, the site may be asked to address any outstanding issues identified during the document review.  The site’s application for designation will remain open as these outstanding items are addressed.  Documentation of progress toward addressing the areas of concern is provided by the applicant site as it is available, and becomes part of the site’s designation application.

If no such outstanding items are identified during the internal review of the completed Self-Assessment Tool, the site will be invited to move forward with scheduling a designation site visit.

Step 5: Arrange for Designation Site Visit

Once the completed self-assessment and submitted documentation suggest that the site’s current practices and policies satisfy all of the designation criteria, Planetree works with the site’s identified designation point person(s) to schedule a site visit and finalize the schedule for the visit.  It will generally take 4-6 weeks for a visit to be scheduled after the application has been deemed complete, and the length of the site visit will be determined based on the size and complexity of the organization.  Approximately one month before the visit, the visit schedule is finalized, and the site is then responsible for organizing focus groups, per the agreed upon schedule.

Step 6: Conference Call is Scheduled to Review Measurement Criteria

In its application for designation, the site identifies a point person(s) for the measurement criteria.  A conference call is scheduled with that individual(s) to discuss the site’s performance as it relates to the relevant measurement criteria.

Step 7: Designation Site Visit

A site visit team comes on-site to conduct a series of focus groups with patients/residents and families, staff, and members of the medical staff, and patient/resident and family advisory council.  In addition, they will meet with the leadership team and members of the multidisciplinary steering team guiding patient-/resident-centered care implementation efforts.  The role of the site visit team is to verify from these focus groups that the site is meeting the needs of its patients/residents and staff.  This focus group work is the foundation for designation determinations, and therefore, adequate participation in each focus group is essential.  At the completion of the assessment visit, the site visit team will provide a debriefing session with leadership to present focus group feedback along with preliminary results and potential recommendations.  Following the site visit, a more detailed written report is provided to the applicant, including verbatim comments from the focus groups.

Phase III: Review and Decision by the Designation Committee

Step 8: Designation Committee Reviews Findings of Site Visit Team; Site Receives Committee Feedback

A report by the site visit team documenting the site visit team’s findings is shared with the Designation Committee for a review of how well the site’s current activities, practices, policies and structures satisfy the criteria.  In those areas where the site has been deemed to not fully satisfy the intent of the criteria, recommendations will be provided to the site by the Designation Committee, each including a specific follow-up action required of the site to satisfy the criteria, e.g. development of a policy or documentation of future plans.

Step 9: Site Responds to Committee Questions and Requests for Additional Information

If the Designation Committee concludes that there are minimal outstanding issues that the applicant needs to address prior to being eligible for designation, Planetree will contact the applicant to inquire whether the applicant intends to address the requested follow-up action and in what timeframe.  If the applicant is able to address the outstanding issues within 12 months, the application will remain open as the site responds to the Committee’s requests for additional information.  Beyond requiring that each of these requests be addressed within a 12-month period, there is no strict timeframe in which an organization must provide the requested information.  As it is available, it should be shared with Planetree electronically so that it can be shared with the Designation Committee.

If the applicant is unable to address the issues within 12 months, the application will be closed.  The applicant may re-apply for designation in the future when it has met all of the designation criteria.

Step 10: Designation Committee Makes Final Determination on Designation

The final determination on the site’s designation status is up to the sole discretion of the Designation Committee.  Upon satisfactory demonstration that each of the designation criteria has been met, the site will be notified of the Committee’s decision to award the site Designation.

Once the Committee renders a designation decision, Planetree will notify the site’s leadership and designation point person of the decision by phone, as well as in writing.

Phase IV: Activities After Designation

Step 11: Promotion and Celebration

Applicants are encouraged to promote successful designation to their employees, patients/residents and the local community.  Planetree will provide designated sites with templates to assist in promotion, including sample press releases and letters to public officials, as well as guidelines for promotional activities.

Planetree will annually announce and recognize all designated sites at the Spirit of Planetree Awards Dinner held during the Planetree Annual Conference. Planetree encourages sites to be represented at the Awards Ceremony to receive this acknowledgement, and to accept their official designation award.

Step 12: Site Provides Routine Updates to Planetree for Duration of Designation Term

The designation term is three years, during which time designated sites are expected to continue to adhere to the criteria and incorporate appropriate policies and procedures as changes are published and made effective from time to time (though not more often than one time a year).  As part of the commitment to ongoing patient-/resident-centered excellence that all Planetree Designated® organizations are expected to demonstrate, each organization that achieves a three-year designation term will regularly submit to Planetree quality and patient/resident satisfaction data,  annual (biennial) employee survey data and safety culture audit data.