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Joint Commission Accreditation – Why Healthcare Facilities Need It!

The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care.  The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, including hospitals and health care organizations that provide ambulatory and office-based surgery, behavioral health, home health care, laboratory and nursing care center services.

Healthcare organizations accredited by the Joint Commission are communicating to the public that they are serious about patient safety, the quality and consistency of their services, and accountability for patient and resident outcomes.

In fact, the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval allows healthcare organizations to provide a link to their Quality Check™ which can be used to promote the value of accreditation by having the Joint Commission as a public source of quality validation.  Organizations that qualify for the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal are confirming their commitment to National Patient Safety Goals that apply to their accreditation.

The Joint Commission scoring and decision process is based on an evaluation of compliance with Joint Commission standards, an unannounced survey, and other requirements (some exceptions apply).  The survey is designed to encourage healthcare organizations to be continuously ready to demonstrate their compliance with Joint Commission standards, which include:

  • Standards that are reasonable, achievable, and observable by a surveyor
  • An objective evaluation process o help organizations assess, measure, and improve performance
  • Tracing the care delivered to patients, residents or individuals served

The process is designed to reduce unnecessary cost and preparation associated with previously planned surveys. However, not all surveys are unannounced. The TJC team gives a seven-day notice for select surveys including ambulatory care program, behavioral health care program, healthcare staffing certification program, and so on. See the complete list of exceptions to unannounced surveys here.

Why Healthcare Facilities Shout Get Accredited

What does the Joint Commission accreditation offer to healthcare organizations? Here are highlights of our observations of the benefits provided by the organizations that become or maintain accreditation:

  1. Improve Patient Safety and Care Delivery

Joint Commission accreditation for healthcare organizations requires a significant commitment by the leadership, providers and staff to strive for continuous improvement and achieve excellence.

Organizations that align their patient safety efforts with Joint Commission accreditation standards define each team member’s role and responsibilities to reduce the risk for patient harm.

During the on-site surveys, the TJC surveyors give professional advice and counsel that will enhance the healthcare staff’s existing knowledge and skills.

Accredited organizations can also easily measure their performance and find customized solutions for challenging healthcare problems, by accessing the Leading Practice Library.   The library topics include real life solutions that have been successfully implemented by health care organizations and reviewed by Joint Commission standards experts.

The tools provided by the Joint Commission are by design, a method to better organize and strengthen patient safety efforts, such as suicide risk screens, anesthesia orders, airway alerts, and other life-threatening issues that are relevant across many healthcare settings.

  1. Increase Business Bottom Line

What happens when healthcare organizations comply with the highest standards of patient care? Of course, it will gain trust from the public.

Not only that it helps form a positive impression, but it also provides them with a competitive edge in the marketplace. People will always choose a facility that’s aligned with one of the most respected names in healthcare.

And since The Joint Commission’s standards focus on clinical practice guidelines and performance improvement strategies, accredited organizations can establish a consistent approach to care. This means they can reduce the risk of error or low-quality care.

Lastly, healthcare facilities with Joint Commission accreditation can attract qualified talents. Most healthcare practitioners prefer working in an accredited organization because of the opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge.

  1. Enhance Business Operations

Enhancing healthcare operations can sometimes be a daunting task. But in the case of TJC-accredited healthcare organizations, handling and improving daily business operations is manageable.

That’s because The Joint Commission provides continuing support and education services to accredited organizations in a variety of settings. The TJC team came from various healthcare industries, thus ensuring organizations customized and intensive review.

Since The Joint Commission conducts on-site surveys, it will help organizations maintain a high level of compliance with the latest standards. The surveys will also guide them in improving their organizational structure, management, and overall efforts.

  1. Earn Recognition in the Field

The best thing about being accredited by The Joint Commission is that you will earn public recognition and validate the outstanding contributions and commitments to quality by physicians and staff.

Some accredited healthcare facilities automatically qualify for Medicare and Medicaid certification and avoid state CMS agency surveys if they are deemed Medicare.

TJC-accredited organizations may also be exempt from other regulatory requirements in select states. They don’t need to undergo duplicative surveys or inspections that would only consume their working hours.

Also, such accreditation gives facilities the advantage of being recognized by insurers and other third parties. In some markets, insurance companies see accreditation a prerequisite to eligibility for reimbursement and participation in managed care plans.

The Takeaway

Accreditation goes beyond complying with the standards.  It becomes part of the organization’s culture  by ensuring patient safety and organizational transparency at every level and is a symbol of high-quality and trustworthy patient care.

The Joint Commission has many tools and professionals that will guide an organization through the accreditation process, which includes significant and ongoing documentation.  Organizations considering accreditation and those already accredited should consider online compliance and learning management software for the distribution, tracking, and evidence of compliance as another tool to increase efficiency and reduce cost.