Role and Evolution of Joint Commission

Joint Commission: an Introduction

The Joint Commission was founded as an independent non-profit in 1951. Since then, it has continuously worked to improve the condition and quality of healthcare in US. Its primary aim  is to improve the quality of care and provide healthcare organizations with necessary support and guidance. It evaluates and accredits the healthcare organizations with an aim to promote value and quality in care. It has accredited and certified more than 21000 healthcare organizations in US. This long list includes hospitals and health care organizations that provide ambulatory and office-based surgery, behavioral health, home health care, laboratory and nursing care center services. In US, the commission is the largest and the oldest standard setting and accrediting body in healthcare. It has two affiliate bodies that also work to continuously improve the quality of care throughout the nation. The purpose of the commission is to solve the most critical problems in healthcare related to patient safety and quality. It has encouraged health care organizations to exceed its recommendations on quality. The Commission collaborates with several organizations and professionals in this regard.

Mission of the Joint Commission:

To continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value

Role of the Commission:

The role of the commission has continued to evolve since its foundation. It accredited and certified a very large number of healthcare organizations. Apart from accreditation, it has also worked to ensure compliance in healthcare. Its surveyors visit the accredited organizations every 39 months to evaluate their compliance with the standards. These visits generally come unannounced and are called surveys. The most important goal of the Commission is to ensure quality and patient safety.  Its standards are mainly focused on these two points. The standards are updated regularly to accommodate the changes occurring daily in the healthcare world. There are more than 250 standards for the accreditation of hospitals. There are several important areas that these standards are related to. Most important of them are patient rights and education, medication management, prevention of medical errors, infection control etc.  Some other key areas included under these standards are qualification and competence of doctors, nurses and other staff, preparation for emergency situations, and collection and use of data for improvement.

Accreditation and its advantages:

Accreditation is a voluntary program where compliance and performance of an organization is compared with the set standards. It brings several advantages. Some of the benefits are reduced risks, better risk management, improved staff recruitment and development as well as improved operations through education and consultation. Till some years ago, it was the only accreditation program with an established reputation. Even for the organizations that have not been accredited, the Commission can be an excellent source of education, motivation and inspiration. Research has also shown that accreditation improves the quality of care. In a wide variety of clinical conditions, accreditation has been found to lead to improved outcomes. Still, the most important thing is that it is a voluntary and not mandatory process. Only the organizations that want to prove their commitment to quality can gain accreditation through the commission.

There are financial benefits to be derived from accreditation. It reduces risks and liability. Improved staff management also reduces costs. In some markets it provides additional benefits like eligibility for insurance reimbursements as well as participation in managed care plans or contract bidding. Joint commission’s role in the improvement of healthcare is of paramount importance. It has benefited the providers and the patients both. Continuously, it aims to improve the quality of care through the development of new standards.