Healthcare Business News

Joint Commission to certify hospitals as primary-care medical homes

By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: February 21, 2013 - 11:45 am ET

Joint Commission-accredited acute-care and critical-care hospitals whose ambulatory-care offerings include primary-care services can now receive additional certification as a primary care medical home.

Surveys for the medical home certification can be done in conjunction with a hospital's regular onsite accreditation survey or separately. Surveys are expected to begin this month, according to a Joint Commission news release.

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Requirements for certification will include operational characteristics related to comprehensive, coordinated and patient-centered care, access to care, and a systems-based approach to quality improvement and patient safety. It was noted in the release that some medical home standards will address human resources, leadership, medical management, records, and patient rights and responsibilities. The release also stated that the Joint Commission's medical home model is based on the HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's definition, and that medical home certification offers “the opportunity for increased reimbursement from third-party payers.”

The release refers to the “provision of primary-care services offered by a primary-care clinician,” meaning that the presence of a physician is not required for medical home certification. On a Joint Commission Web page, it explains that a clinician can be a doctor, advanced-practice nurse or a physician assistant.

“Primary-care medical homes represent a new approach for hospitals to emphasize their commitment to patient-centered care,” said Mark Pelletier, Joint Commission interim chief operating officer and director of accreditation and certification services, in the release. “By focusing on teamwork, hospitals that achieve PCMH certification will have the framework in place that will assist them in their efforts to deliver the best care possible for their patients.”

The Joint Commission gathered feedback on the new program last summer. It originally announced in September 2010 that it was getting into the medical home certification business. AltaMed Health Services, a Los Angeles-based healthcare system with 43 sites, was the first organization to receive the Joint Commission's primary-care medical home designation in August 2011.

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