Under the leadership of Dennis O'Leary, M.D., the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has made strides in improving customer service and containing costs, while at the same time making its information more accessible and useful to the public.
Now, we have an idea on how to keep the momentum rolling.
In a letter to the editor that appears on this page, O'Leary responds to an article about a JCAHO board meeting (Sept. 30, p. 2). The story was based on the recollections of a board liaison and a written statement from O'Leary that we received shortly before deadline. Our sources contend the story was an accurate account, but the JCAHO requested clarification.
To avoid this kind of confusion, we suggest the JCAHO allow reporters to attend board meetings or make information about the meetings available shortly after their conclusion, either by issuing summaries or having a group of commissioners available for press conferences.
The JCAHO certainly is charged with formidable responsibility. First, it must be accountable to the needs of hospitals and other organizations that it accredits. Second, its stamp of approval on the performance of healthcare organizations gives many providers the right to treat Medicare patients. Third, it acts as a storehouse of information for those interested in making sensible healthcare choices. Fourth, it must grapple with increasingly inquisitive media that are trying to better understand the accreditation process.
MODERN HEALTHCARE traditionally has followed the comings and goings of the JCAHO because of its importance to our readership. After all, seven members of the JCAHO's 28-person board are sponsored by the American Hospital Association and another seven are representatives of the American Medical Association. And we certainly turned up our coverage when hospitals began questioning the JCAHO's fees and strategic direction.
O'Leary has worked to improve customer relations while positioning purchasers and government and consumer groups as beneficiaries of JCAHO services. Candor and communication are at the root of the improvement process.
The public would be better served if the JCAHO let the sunshine in at board meetings without spin, filter or delay.