Ask any hospital that's been surveyed recently: Things are changing at the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
In response to complaints from providers about value for their money and quality of service, the Joint Commission is trying to renovate its processes to become more useful to its customers and more accountable to the public.
Glenn D. Krasker, director of the hospital accreditation program, and H. Dale Brown Jr., an administrative surveyor, will be giving a preview of what the Joint Commission has in store for the next few years. They will make the presentation twice on Tuesday, March 4 at 10: 30 a.m., and again at 2 p.m.
They will discuss the introduction of laptop computers, the Orion initiative and the transformation of the triennial survey into a continuous accreditation process.
"We incorporated laptop technology into the survey process starting in January 1996," Krasker says. "It was developed to increase the consistency of the survey process."
Instead of having surveyors score the individual standards, the laptop software has broken down the scoring guidelines into measurable characteristics. That's "one level of detail deeper" than surveyors could go before, Krasker says. As a result, the survey is more accurate and the evaluations are more consistent, hospital to hospital.
The Orion initiative uses four states as laboratories for doing surveys in the future. Field representatives in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee work with hospitals as they prepare for surveying. They help the organization understand what it needs to do, answer questions and interpret standards. In effect, they act as Joint Commission consultants to the hospital. They try to stay in continuous contact by making quarterly visits to each hospital.
In 1997, the JCAHO will add four more states to the experiment. In each state, the model varies slightly. In Pennsylvania, the interchanges are face to face. In Arizona, it's handled electronically from Phoenix. The Joint Commission intends to take the best practices that evolve and extend them later to other states.
Krasker and Brown also want to talk about the Joint Commission's crusade to reduce redundancy and overlap in accreditation. For instance, Krasker says, "We're doing something with the Air Force, so the Joint Commission doesn't survey and then have the inspector general come in right behind and do the same thing."