In a new attempt to help hospitals get into the swing of performance measurement, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations last week eased the requirements to participate in its new Oryx program.
As unveiled last February, Oryx obligated hospitals and nursing homes to start collecting measurements on clinical performance and submit them to the JCAHO, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
Under the initial rules, providers had until Dec. 31 to choose a software vendor and select at least two clinical indicators that together would cover 20% of patient discharges. Each succeeding year, providers had to add more indicators so that 40% of discharges were covered, then 60%, and so forth.
Now the JCAHO has decided to give hospitals and long-term-care organizations another 60 days to choose a vendor and pick their indicators. The new deadline is March 2.
What's more, providers can select as many as five clinical indicators to help them reach the initial 20% threshold of patient discharges.
"Some hospitals were finding it was a challenge to come up with a sufficient number of measures to come up with that 20%," said Janet McIntyre, JCAHO spokeswoman. "Now they still need to pick at least two, but the cap is five," even if they don't hit the 20% target.
Also, the yearly increments have been scaled back to 20%, then 25%, then 30%, 35% and so forth.
"That probably is a good move on their part," said Bruce Curson, chief operating officer of East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, La. "Small or large hospitals are not going to have any difficulties selecting five. It wouldn't make that much difference at East Jefferson. I was doing cardiology, which was 25% of my business."
Jean Chenoweth, a vice president at HCIA, a Baltimore-based information systems software vendor and one of the approved Oryx vendors, said both changes "will make it easier for the hospitals to select indicators they feel comfortable with and want to work on, and still hit the percentage of the patient population that the Joint Commission requires."