Home Safety Services is often asked: “Why are you and continue to be Joint Commission Accredited’? The following “WK-Health 4/17″ article details why as a company we raised the bar on our commitment to quality and patient/client health.

The Joint Commission’s  emphasis on clinical practice guidelines help hospitals establish a consistent approach to care and reduce errors.

                                                         “Joint Commission is here today!”

With so much at stake during unannounced Joint Commission accreditation onsite surveys, it’s no surprise that these 5 words have been known to strike fear into the hearts of the most seasoned hospital leaders and clinicians.

So what exactly does The Joint Commission do, and why is their accreditation so important for U.S. hospitals?

An independent, not-for-profit organization since 1951, The Joint Commission (TJC) provides accreditation and certification to nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.

The Joint Commission’s mission statement is: “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.” The Joint Commission is governed by a 32-member Board of Commissioners that includes physicians, administrators, nurses, employers, quality experts, a consumer advocate and educators.

Accreditation & certification

Health care organizations, programs, and services can voluntarily pursue accreditation and certification. Facilities eligible for accreditation include:

  • hospitals (general, children’s, psychiatric, rehabilitation, and critical access)
  • home care, including medical equipment, pharmacy, and hospice services
  • nursing care centers, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers
  • behavioral health care and addiction services
  • ambulatory care, for example office-based surgery practices
  • laboratory services (independent or freestanding clinical laboratories).

Joint Commission surveyors visit applicants a minimum of once every 39 months (two years for laboratories) to evaluate standards compliance. All regular Joint Commission accreditation surveys are unannounced.

Joint Commission surveyors are highly trained and certified experts in health care. During the survey, they select patients randomly and use their medical records as a roadmap to evaluate standards compliance. As surveyors trace a patient’s experience in a health care organization, they observe the doctors, nurses, and other staff providing care, and often speak to the patients themselves.

Joint Commission accreditation does not begin and end with the on-site survey; it’s a continuous process. Every three months, hospitals submit data to the Joint Commission on how they treat specific conditions, such as heart attack care or pneumonia. The data is available to the public and updated quarterly on www.qualitycheck.org. Throughout the accreditation cycle, organizations are provided with a self-assessment scoring tool to help monitor their ongoing standards compliance. Joint Commission accreditation is woven into the fabric of a health care organization’s operations.

There are also several certifications available to health care facilities:

  • Advanced Certification for Palliative Care
  • Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement
  • Behavioral Health Home Certification
  • Community-based Palliative Care Certification
  • Disease-Specific Care Certification
  • Health Care Staffing Services Certification
  • Integrated Care Certification
  • Patient Blood Management Certification
  • Perinatal Care Certification
  • Primary Care Medical Home Certification (for ambulatory care, hospitals, and critical access hospitals).

Benefits to the hospital

Joint Commission certification improves the quality of patient care by reducing variation in clinical processes. The Joint Commission’s standards and emphasis on clinical practice guidelines help organizations establish a consistent approach to care, reducing the risk of error.

Certification standards provide a framework for disease management program structure. This helps to maintain a consistently high level of quality, using effective data-driven performance improvement.

Joint Commission reviewers have significant experience evaluating disease management programs and can provide an objective assessment of clinical excellence. They are trained to provide expert advice and education on good practices during the on-site review.

Certification provides an opportunity for staff to develop their skills and knowledge. Achieving certification provides the clinical team with common goals and a concrete validation of their combined efforts.

Meeting Joint Commission standards promotes a culture of excellence across the organization. The accomplishment is recognized with the awarding of The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval®. Certified organizations proudly display the Gold Seal to advertise their commitment to health care quality.

In some markets, certification is becoming a prerequisite to eligibility for insurance reimbursement, or participation for managed care plans and contract bidding. Certification may meet certain regulatory requirements in some states, which can reduce duplication.

Achieving certification makes a strong statement to the community about an organization’s efforts to provide the highest quality services. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.