The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is getting away from the controversial business of selling data analysis to 14 Blues plans. But the plans involved in the 6-month-old data-mining flap aren't abandoning the idea of monitoring hospitals for performance, according to Chris Hamrick, spokesman for the Chicago-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
The Blues brokered the JCAHO data-mining deal last year on behalf of a group of its member plans. Hamrick said losing the JCAHO was unfortunate because it was "a good partner" in the venture. But "to us, it's the program that's important. We want to work with the best vendor possible. If it's not JCAHO, then it will be someone else. We will continue," he said.
The Blues have not identified a replacement for Joint Commission Resources, the JCAHO unit involved in the previous deal, but will begin the search soon, Hamrick said.
Hamrick also said a third round of reports under the Joint Commission Resources contract will be released by the Blues plans in a couple of weeks, with the final round due early next year.
Separately, the Blues association planned to unveil a major consumer-directed health plan initiative on Dec. 5.
Though JCAHO officials abandoned the idea of selling data to payers last month, they are still contemplating a requirement that hospitals provide patient-identified data as part of accreditation (Nov. 28, p. 8). JCAHO officials say the new, patient-specific data is needed to ensure the accuracy of the risk-adjusted, hospital performance measures it publicly reports.
AHA spokesman Richard Wade said it is too early to tell whether the jousting match has ended between the hospitals and the JCAHO over the patient-identified data request. "It depends on what they're going to do with (the data), and the hospitals should have the ability to opt out of that and it shouldn't be tied to accreditation," he said.