Eight months after John Laing joined the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations to coordinate contact with the outside world, the job is being split in two to turn up the volume on the JCAHO's message to governments.
The split will create a new operating division for government relations and add another vice president to the organizational chart. Mr. Laing, hired as vice president of marketing and external relations, will keep the tasks of marketing, communications, development and customer relations.
The JCAHO's chief operating officer, Karen Timmons, said action in state and federal healthcare reform warranted an officer-level position to quarterback initiatives and respond to inquiries.
The commission has been fanning out to state governments to stake claims in quality-assessment and performance-measurement efforts.
Top executives have been sharing that task, but Ms. Timmons said, "We do not have the number of officers proficient to do that and still carry out their management duties."
Mr. Laing said the new government division will "add to our bench strength" in the campaign to carry the commission's message to the states. Ms. Timmons said Mr. Laing recommended the restructuring.
No one has been hired for the new position, which was authorized at the commission's May board meeting. Also vacant is the vice president position for performance measures and research that opened up when William Jessee, M.D., left in July to become a consultant for Alliant Health System, Louisville, Ky.
Besides the step-up in government relations, the commission is adding corporate relations to Mr. Laing's duties. Ms. Timmons said corporate interest in the commission's initiative on organization-specific disclosure of accreditation results is one factor, along with interest among Fortune 500 companies in its new accreditation program for healthcare networks.