The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for the first time is recognizing physician group accreditations granted by another entity, the Seal Beach, Calif.-based Medical Quality Commission.
The two organizations last month announced a one-year agreement in which an accreditation from one group will be recognized by the other. The agreement potentially would cut costs and reduce administrative hassles for physician groups and networks controlled by hospitals and health plans, which are JCAHO's concentration.
The pact is a response to doctors' "growing intolerance of the duplication of survey activity," says Charles Mowll, JCAHO's executive vice president for government relations and external affairs.
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based JCAHO has spent the last three years seeking out other joint agreements. It has signed long-term deals with separate groups accrediting clinical laboratories and pathologists.
Mowll says that by getting such agreements, JCAHO hopes to get managed-care organizations to accept its accreditation instead of sending out their own surveys. So far, no major HMO has agreed to do that, he says.
For the Medical Quality Commission, which formed in 1987 as a component of the United Medical Group Association, the JCAHO agreement is a potential boost for its business. The Medical Quality Commission, which spun off from UMGA in 1991, expects by year's end to have accredited 37 physician groups and one independent practice association, mostly in California. The commission charges $10,000 to $16,000, depending on the size of the practice.
"We are very well-known on the West Coast and certainly don't have as much of a presence elsewhere in the U.S.," says Lori Bloomfield, chief operating officer of the Medical Quality Commission. "We felt that a very small side benefit may be that other (physician) organizations get to know us."
JCAHO and the Medical Quality Commission will spend the next year studying each other's accreditation process before deciding whether to extend the agreement. Neither side pays the other to be a part of the alliance.