The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has added two new vice presidents to its main operating division to get a better handle on the accreditation process and make it more attractive to healthcare purchasers.
Larry Hipp, M.D., will become vice president for managed care in late August. Hipp, 59, oversaw the selection and monitoring of health plans for AT&T Corp. as its corporate medical director. He leaves that post July 1.
Hipp also is a founding participant in the Foundation for Accountability, an organization of public and private healthcare purchasers agitating for medical outcome measures that are understandable and useful to consumers in deciding on a health plan.
Richard Croteau, M.D., has been promoted to vice president for accreditation services. Croteau, 54, will assume management responsibilities for the entire accreditation process, from pre-survey activities through on-site surveys, results reporting and follow-up functions.
Croteau previously was director of standards interpretation and served as a surveyor. Before coming to the JCAHO in 1990, he was chief of surgery, director of the intensive-care unit and director of quality assurance at South County Hospital in Wakefield, R.I.
He also has a background as a rocket scientist. With a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering, he served as an analyst for NASA in the lunar module program of Project Apollo.
The JCAHO has worked under the gun to retool its management of the accreditation process since a crescendo of criticism resulted in an "action plan" for improvement laid out by the commission's healthcare industry sponsors in early 1995.
The commission board, which includes representatives from the JCAHO's five sponsoring organizations, issued a new action plan in January defining priorities for 1996. The aims include improving the value of accreditation to healthcare organizations and making the results more useful.
In appointing Hipp to the new post, the JCAHO also is trying to broaden the appeal of its monitoring process to employers making decisions about managed-care plans.
Hipp said JCAHO President Dennis O'Leary, M.D., told him that employers and purchasers were expressing more and more interest in measures of healthcare quality but were asking unfamiliar questions.
"There's information that employers need that they don't always get in trying to assess plans and institutions," Hipp said. "They have a different set of `need-to-knows."'
"(O'Leary) said he did not have the internal resources to know how to respond to that," Hipp said. As vice president of managed care, Hipp said his primary role will be that of "an internal consultant to bring a purchaser's perspective to the Joint Commission."
That's much the same perspective he brought to talks in 1995 hosted by the Jackson Hole Group, a loose-knit healthcare policy development group headed by managed-care pioneer Paul Ellwood, M.D.
The discussions spawned the Foundation for Accountability, known as Facct. Hipp is on the group's board of directors, which represents major private corporations such as AT&T and Ameritech Corp., public-sector purchasers including HCFA and the Department of Defense, and consumer groups such as the American Association of Retired Persons.
Hipp said his internal consultations at the JCAHO will introduce purchaser viewpoints to all the accreditation programs, not just the newest program instituted for managed-care plans and integrated delivery networks.
The network accreditation program, launched about two years ago in response to the growth of managed care, has reached decisions on six applicants so far, and eight more surveys have been scheduled since January, said Ann Flanagan, director of network accreditation services.
She predicted the number of completed surveys would exceed 20 by year-end. Included in that number are three health plans of Cigna HealthCare, which said in February it wanted to examine the JCAHO's approach and compare it with that of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which started reviewing Cigna plans in 1993.