The American Hospital Association's new liaison to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations says he has no "marching orders" to replace the JCAHO's struggling clinical indicator monitoring system with a similar system being marketed by the Maryland Hospital Association.
Jonathan Lord, M.D., has been involved with the Maryland system since its inception in 1985, as was AHA President Richard Davidson when he headed the Maryland Hospital Association before joining the AHA in 1991.
"My job will be to help make each system the best it can be," Dr. Lord told MODERN HEALTHCARE last week in his first interview as the AHA's new senior adviser for clinical affairs.
In an unusual employment arrangement, Dr. Lord, the former executive vice president for clinical services at SunHealth Alliance in Charlotte, N.C., will be splitting his time between his AHA job and his simultaneous appointment as executive vice president of Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md. He was executive secretary of the medical staff at the 303-bed hospital from June 1989 to December 1992, when he joined SunHealth.
Dr. Lord has had a long relationship with the Maryland clinical indicator project. Anne Arundel participates in the project, as do the Navy's 21 hospitals. Dr. Lord brought the military hospitals into the project in 1987, when he was the head of quality assurance for the Navy. He also served on the project's advisory group from 1988 to 1993.
More than 750 hospitals in 48 states are using the Maryland system.
The JCAHO's system, meanwhile, has attracted 215 voluntary hospital participants. The JCAHO had planned to have 2,000 hospitals signed up by year's end. Many of the hospitals that tested the JCAHO's system, known as the IMSystem, say there's little evidence that the data help them make improvements in patient care (March 14, p. 30). The JCAHO will require all accredited hospitals to use the system as early as 1996.
"Both projects have systems that need to mature," Dr. Lord said.
Dr. Lord said his priorities as the AHA's liaison with the JCAHO are improving the lines of communication between the JCAHO, the AHA and the hospital field; improving the quality of the AHA's representation on the JCAHO board; and ensuring that the strategic directions of the AHA and the JCAHO are consistent.