The perspective of large employers will now be heard within the halls of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
The JCAHO has created a new Business Advisory Group to counsel it on how employers want to evaluate healthcare quality.
"We welcome the voice of the purchaser community as we continue to refine our accreditation service," said Dennis O'Leary, M.D., JCAHO president. "These individuals will bring the Joint Commission a series of fresh perspectives on healthcare quality issues."
The panel has been in the planning stages for two to three years and will serve as an advisory to the office of the president. Members receive no compensation.
Lou Ann Cash, vice president of benefits for American Express, is the chair for the first two years. The group conducted its inaugural meeting at the JCAHO's Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., headquarters on Feb. 25. It will meet two more times this year, and will normally convene twice a year.
The group consists of representatives of 16 large national employers and two local purchasing coalitions. The balance is weighted toward large manufacturers such as IBM Corp., 3M, John Deere and General Motors Corp. Service firms include American Airlines and AT&T. Three healthcare companies are on the list: Baxter Healthcare Corp., Pfizer and MedPartners.
Spokeswoman Alice Brown said the members were chosen mainly for geographic representation. The JCAHO is still searching for someone to speak for smaller employers.
Two or three members of the Business Advisory Group will be sitting in on the Council on Performance Measurement. Similarly, they are invited to attend Joint Commission board meetings as observers.
There are no employees or consumers on the panel. "We do have other vehicles where we feel we get input and feedback from consumers," Brown said, suggesting the Professional and Technical Advisory Committee and the six public members on the JCAHO board.