5 recent Joint Commission moves

The Joint Commission recently updated its policy on secure texting of patient information, and received a renewal of its deeming status as an accreditor of laboratory testing. 

Editor's note: This list will be updated throughout the year. 

Five moves from The Joint Commission Becker's has covered since May 22: 

1. On June 27, the group announced that CMS has renewed its deeming authority as an accreditor for laboratory and point-of-care testing. The renewal is effective through 2030. Clinical labs seeking Medicare reimbursement may be accredited by a CMS-approved accrediting organization. 

2. Long-term care hospitals accredited by The Joint Commission perform significantly better on key infection control measures, according to a study published in the June issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. The findings showed patients at accredited long-term care hospitals were less likely to get catheter-associated urinary tract infections and central line-associated bloodstream infections. 

3. The accrediting body updated its position on the use of secure text messaging for patient information and orders June 5, stating that accredited organizations may text patient orders to other care team members as long as they use a secure texting platform that transfers data to the EHR. 

4. On June 5, The Joint Commission launched a medication safety campaign titled "Speak up About Your Medications." The public health education initiative is meant to encourage patients to be stewards of their own medication safety and lays out essential questions for patients to ask their physicians and pharmacists when prescribed a new drug. 

5. The Joint Commission's Direct Data Submission Platform now allows accredited organizations that meet certain requirements to resubmit performance measurement data. 

April 12-May 21:

1. The Joint Commission released its annual sentinel event report May 15, showing patient falls were once again the most common safety event reported by healthcare organizations in 2023. See the 10 most common sentinel events reported to the organization here

2. Starting this summer, rural health clinics seeking Medicare reimbursement can apply through a new accreditation program from The Joint Commission. The accrediting body on May 7 announced it received deeming authority from CMS for a new rural health clinic accreditation program. 

3. Beginning July 1, eligible hospitals, ambulatory and behavioral healthcare organizations will be able to apply for a new telehealth accreditation program through The Joint Commission. Read more about the program here

4. The Joint Commission named four new executives in April. Among them is Elizabeth Mort, MD, who was appointed vice president and chief medical officer. She is the former chief quality officer and senior vice president of quality and safety at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 

March 15 to April 3

1. In 2023, managing infection prevention and control during disinfection and sterilization activities was the most challenging compliance standard for hospitals. See the top five requirements hospitals were most frequently out of compliance with last year here

2. On March 27, the accrediting body announced an update to how infection prevention and control, and medication management systems are evaluated during hospital surveys. Effective May 1, surveyors will assess these processes during individual tracer sessions rather than evaluating them in a meeting format. 

3. The Joint Commission has published a simplified breakdown of eight patient safety goals for hospitals in 2024, which include identifying patients correctly, improving staff communication and medication safety. 

4. Several changes to elements of performance for hospitals will take effect July 1, including one that covers the handling of medical waste. Previously, The Joint Commission required hospitals to have procedures in place for the routine storage and prompt disposal of trash, with the standard revised to also include medical waste. 

5. The Joint Commission has named Carla Pugh, MD, PhD, as its inaugural "president's fellow" — a newly created role that reports directly to Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, president and CEO of the organization. Dr. Pugh is a professor of surgery at Stanford (Calif.) School of Medicine. 

Feb. 13 to March 11

1. Four hospitals within Edison, N.J.-based Hackensack Meridian Health system are the first in the nation to earn The Joint Commission's newly launched sustainable healthcare certification, the group announced March 6. 

2. A recent study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety found hospital staff experience 1.17 verbal and/or physical aggressive events for every 40 hours worked. Read more of the key findings here

3. Massachusetts is the first state in the nation where all hospitals are meeting a health equity accreditation standard The Joint Commission introduced last year, the organization announced Feb. 26. Achieving the standard is the first step to obtain The Joint Commission's recently launched health equity certification, which all of the state's hospitals plan to earn by 2025. 

4. On Feb. 13, the accrediting body and the National Quality Forum announced the winners of the annual John M. Eisenberg awards. The national award went to the Veterans Health Administration for a surgical pause initiative that reduced six-month mortality of patients determined to be frail from 25% to 8%. 

Jan. 1 to Feb. 7: 

1. CMS has renewed The Joint Commission's authority to accredit home infusion services.The renewal is effective through Dec. 15, 2029. 

2. Eight hospitals have earned the new health equity certification, the accrediting body confirmed to Becker's on Feb. 2. To earn the certification, hospitals must make "healthcare equity a strategic priority and collaborate with patients, families, caregivers and external organizations to identify and address needs that help translate equitable healthcare into better health outcomes," according to the group's president and CEO, Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD. 

3. The Joint Commission on Feb. 1 also published new guidelines for total hip and knee replacements. The move is part of broader, ongoing revisions and will take effect July 1. Recommendations to include evaluation of risk factors before surgery, including a patient's risk of opioid use history, are among the changes. 

4. In late January, the group issued updated guidelines for emergency management and ambulatory care; they will become effective July 1. The Joint Commission rewrote the chapter on emergency management, which marks a 40% cut in the elements of performance it previously used to measure success in this area. 

5. The Joint Commission removed 70% of performance elements for infection control accreditation, which will take effect July 1. Waste reduction and responding to an influx of infectious patients were two elements that will be removed since they are covered by other emergency management techniques. 

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