Case study from Heart failure policy and practice in Europe

Accreditation of community, specialist and advanced heart failure units in cardiology departments

17 November, 2020

Following publication of national quality standards in 2016,1 the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC) introduced an accreditation programme for heart failure units in cardiology departments (SEC-EXCELENTE).2 This voluntary scheme differentiates between community, specialist and advanced heart failure units according to their offer: portfolio of services, resources, adoption of multidisciplinary care, existence of clinical care pathways, and data collection on heart failure care processes and outcomes.3 Applications for accreditation are reviewed by an accreditation team and approved by the SEC.3

As of 2020, 75 cardiology units have obtained accreditation.4 National experts report that the programme is improving the quality of care provided in heart failure units through regular performance assessment and increased uptake of digital and facilitative technology.


  1. Sánchez MA, Rodríguez JLL, Freire RB, et al. 2016. Classification and quality standards of heart failure units: scientific consensus of the Spanish Society of Cardiology. Revista espanola de cardiologia (English ed) 69(10): 940-50
  2. Sociedad Española de Cardiología. SEC-EXCELENTE. Available from: [Accessed 22/07/20]
  3. Sociedad Española de Cardiología. 2019. Unidad avanzada de insuficiencia cardiaca: estander de calidad SEC. Madrid: SEC
  4. García Pinilla JM. 2020. Interview with Marissa Mes Stephanie Whelan and Ed Harding at The Health Policy Partnership (Secretariat for Heart Failure Policy Network) [Videoconference]. 11/08/20
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The Heart Failure Policy Network is an independent, multidisciplinary platform made possible with financial support from AstraZeneca and Roche Diagnostics. The content produced by the Network is not biased toward any specific treatment or therapy. All outputs are guided and endorsed by the Network’s members. All members provide their time for free. The Network is hosted by The Health Policy Partnership .