I want to clarify recent actions by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' Board of Commissioners reported by MODERN HEALTHCARE (Sept. 30, p. 2).
Collaboration between the National Committee for Quality Assurance and the JCAHO may well benefit the public. However, there was no discussion at the Sept. 20-21 board meeting about strengthening our accreditation program for healthcare networks by collaborating with the NCQA. As reflected in the JCAHO's corporate strategic plan, the board remains committed to expansion of the Network Accreditation Program, with the intent of assuring the availability of comprehensive quality oversight services in the evolving managed-care marketplace.
Further, the board did not discuss or imply a need to make the accreditation process more meaningful and less intimidating to the public. The JCAHO has long since undertaken efforts to pursue these objectives. The new-and widely praised-accreditation process is in substantial measure a product of input from healthcare organizations, consumer groups and other stakeholders who rely on JCAHO decisions and findings, and we continue to work to make it better.
At its September meeting, the board did vote to make accreditation information more accessible to the public by eliminating the $30 fee for performance reports on individual organizations and by authorizing initiation of preparations to make the reports available on the Internet no later than January 1998. The board also acted to discontinue notification to healthcare organizations of the names and addresses of individuals who request their performance reports, and to make specific types of information in the reports, such as overall evaluation scores and associated explanatory information, available upon request.
These actions and others exemplify the ongoing close working relationship between the JCAHO board and staff in balancing and serving the needs of accredited organizations and the publics they serve.
DENNIS S. O'LEARY, M.D.
JCAHO, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.