What Joint Commission, NQF's affiliation means for hospitals

A recent study estimated Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Hospital spent more than $5.6 million on quality metric reporting in 2018, which translates to more than 108,000 hours of work in preparation and reporting data. 

Addressing the reporting burden associated with quality measures is one of the key goals of The Joint Commission's strategic affiliation with the National Quality Forum. The two announced a strategic collaboration in August, aiming to lessen focus on competing measures and instead consolidate, placing more emphasis on patient outcomes. 

Under the affiliation, The Joint Commission's accreditation and certification processes are expected to become more data-driven and outcomes-oriented, and the National Quality Forum will maintain its independence in working with stakeholders to develop consensus-based measures.

"This doesn't mean more measures. It means fewer measures, more precise measures, better measures," Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, president and CEO of The Joint Commission, said of the collaboration. "It means that we can really reduce the burden on providers who are wrestling with trying to do the right thing, but are really saddled with the burden of multiple measures with the same intent." 

Overall, healthcare leaders are hopeful the affiliation will live up to its potential in reducing the quality measures reporting burden on hospitals and health systems. 

Here are three leaders' reactions to the new affiliation: 

David Marshall, DNP, RN. Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Executive at Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles): 

One of the most promising aspects of the news that the National Quality Forum is joining The Joint Commission enterprise is the potential to reduce the reporting burden on healthcare systems. All indications are that the NQF will continue its dedication to the development of consensus-based standards and maintain its independence in this crucial area. The aim of the acquisition is to synergize, not homogenize, the unique strengths that each organization brings to the table. 

With that being said, NQF and TJC have a long history of collaboration and alignment, as both have been instrumental in developing and endorsing quality measures, standards and accreditation programs that drive improvement and accountability across the healthcare system. NQF is known for its consensus-based approach that engages diverse stakeholders from every sector of healthcare, while TJC is known for its evaluation of healthcare organizations' performance and compliance.

The merger aims to leverage the strengths and synergies of both organizations, while preserving their core missions and values. According to the official announcement, NQF will remain an independent entity within TJC, and will continue to develop consensus-based standards and measures that reflect the best available evidence and expert input. TJC will continue to provide accreditation and certification services that assess and recognize healthcare organizations' quality and safety practices.

The merger may enhance the innovation and impact of quality improvement initiatives by fostering greater collaboration and coordination among various stakeholders, such as nurses, patients, physicians, payers, policymakers, researchers and educators. By combining the expertise, resources and networks of NQF and TJC, the merger aims to accelerate the development and dissemination of best practices, tools and solutions that improve health outcomes and value for all.

Jennifer Mensik Kennedy, PhD, RN. President of the American Nurses Association: As the leading voice for the nation's more than 5 million nurses, ANA welcomes this professional collaboration between The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum to advance healthcare delivery and quality. As a member of the founding coalition that established NQF, ANA is reflecting on the original impetus for such an organization — "to promote and ensure patient protections and healthcare quality through measurement and public reporting." It's this focus that must remain front and center to the ongoing work of NQF, along with a continued commitment to transparency and adherence to a strong multistakeholder process. ANA looks forward to The Joint Commission broadening its collaboration with nursing. We stand ready to work with The Joint Commission and NQF to improve patient outcomes for all.

Matthew Miller, DO. Associate Chief Quality Officer at Cleveland Clinic: 

The merger of NQF into TJC brings together two remarkable organizations that are focused on healthcare quality and safety. We should expect to see TJC's accreditation and certification process evolve to be even more evidence-based with NQF's expertise in quality measures. I suspect TJC's activities will become more data driven. There is also a benefit to NQF — it broadens their platform under TJC to get even more exposure to their quality measure development. 

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