Risk Managers React to JCAHO Accreditation Changes

April 1, 2003 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Calling it the culmination of a three-year continuous improvement effort, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has unveiled substantial changes to its accreditation process. JCAHO's revised program, dubbed "Shared Visions—New Pathways," will take effect for all accreditation programs in January 2004, bringing with it changes JCAHO says will help transform accreditation from a commodity to a service.

Key aspects of the new accreditation program include consolidated standards, an online self-assessment, and a new process to tailor on-site surveys to individual hospitals. Other changes—such as new scoring procedures and steps to increase surveyor consistency—are also being implemented.

Together, says Linda Murphy-Knoll, JCAHO's vice president for service operations, the changes will focus accreditation surveys more closely on the delivery of care and make facility compliance an ongoing process, not geared to quickly "ramping up" performance in anticipation of triennial surveys. "We want accreditation to go from a snapshot in time to a movie—a continuous picture where we see organizations over time," she says.

Most respondents to a Healthcare Risk Control (HRC) Weekly News survey rated the overall package of changes as better than or comparable to the current process. Ginger Lanford, R.N., B.S.N., M.B.A., vice president for compliance and quality at Triumph HealthCare, LLP (Houston, TX), agrees, although she's taking a "wait and see" attitude. "The new system—if it works the way they're outlining it—will give the risk manager a much better perspective of what's happening in facilities," she says. "This could be...

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