The American Hospital Association has tapped a former accreditation surveyor and consultant as its new liaison to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
The appointment of Jonathan Lord, M.D., to the newly created position of senior adviser for clinical affairs comes at a time of growing criticism of the JCAHO's operations and policies by many hospitals and hospital groups.
The appointment sends a signal to the AHA's member hospitals that the association is taking their concerns seriously and that the AHA intends to keep better tabs on the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based accrediting agency.
Though not openly critical of the JCAHO, Richard Davidson, AHA president, acknowledged in a statement on the appointment that "we are entering a critical phase in hospitals' relationship with the Joint Commission."
Mr. Davidson also has previously stated the association's goal of improving its relationships with other professional groups, including the JCAHO, and of developing "a clear vision of where we want to be on accreditation and other public accountability issues."
Mr. Davidson made the comment in an April 5 memo on the appointment of Fredric Entin, AHA's senior vice president and general counsel, as acting AHA executive vice president following George Belsey's resignation. The AHA later named Christine McEntee, the association's vice president and deputy director for federal relations, to replace Mr. Belsey (May 9, p. 22).
As executive vice president, Mr. Belsey was the AHA's chief liaison with the JCAHO. That part of the executive vice president's responsibilities was carved out of the job and given to Dr. Lord as the new senior adviser for clinical affairs, an AHA spokesman said.
Dr. Lord, 39, will begin his new job July 1 and will report directly to Mr. Davidson. He's now executive vice president for clinical services at SunHealth Alliance in Charlotte, N.C.
In his new post, Dr. Lord will be the association's liaison not only with the JCAHO but with other organizations dealing with quality management and outcomes measurement, the AHA said. But the AHA highlighted Dr. Lord's "close relations" with the JCAHO, noting that he was a JCAHO consultant and surveyor from 1986 through 1993.
The appointment follows the disclosure that the JCAHO recently hired a former AHA director as a special assistant to JCAHO President Dennis O'Leary, M.D. (June 13, p. 28).