P.O. Box 409095
Chicago, IL 60640
Length: 5 minutes
Interviewer: David Burda, editor, Modern Healthcare
Interviewee: Mark Chassin, president, Joint Commission
[00:00:01.27] David Burda: Hello everyone; this is Dave Burda, editor of Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician magazines, and its Thursday, Jan. 31, and visiting with us today is Dr. Mark Chassin, the new president and CEO of the Joint Commission. Mark, welcome to Modern Healthcare.
[00:00:17.27] Mark Chassin: Thanks a lot, Dave.
[00:00:18.24] David Burda: Your background suggests that you are a regulator, and that is an issue for our readers. The role of a Joint Commission as either a peer review, a partner in quality improvement, or a regulator. How does your background affect your view of how youre going to do your job?
[00:00:39.07] Mark Chassin: Well thanks, thanks for inviting me, Dave.
[00:00:41.11] David Burda: Uh-huh.
[00:00:42.07] Mark Chassin: My background is, is manifold; I practiced emergency medicine for 12 years, Ive done research; I have been a regulator, both in state and in federal government. The Joint Commission is not a classic regulatory agency in the sense that a government agency functions; its a private organization that works in partnership with the federal government, in partnership with state governments, to ensure the quality and safety are at the highest levels we can achieve in the delivery system. So, I view the Joint Commissions job as both through its accreditation program, assuring that there is a floor for safety and quality, that we keep rising, keep raising as standards improve, so that patients and families can rely that there is a floor for organizations providing care in the delivery system.
But, outside of accreditation and alongside of accreditation, the Joint Commission also has an obligation and has a series of programs to facilitate much more rapid improvement and much more rapid adoption of even higher safety and quality standards throughout the delivery system. So, I think that we have both of those responsibilities.
[00:02:00.06] David Burda: Now, statistically, the Joint Commission accredits the vast majority of hospitals that seek accreditation, upwards of 90%, I believe. Where do you see that going five years from now? Do you expect it to be harder to achieve accreditation, perhaps that number drops to 70%? Or, it still remains high, but its a little tougher to achieve.
[00:02:27.09] Mark Chassin: Well, I think the most important component of the accreditation process for hospitals is that we keep the standards increasing in their reliability and their capacity to deliver high-quality care. So, hospitals should expect that the standards for accreditation will keep getting harder to meet. As we get better at identifying what the safe practices of high-quality practices are, that hospitals need to adopt. I think that it is not our aim to close down some percentage of hospitals across the country. We would much rather have all hospitals be able to achieve the same high standards, but the standards will keep increasing in toughness as the years go by.
[00:03:13.24] David Burda: Well let me ask you briefly about one set of controversial standards that weve been covering a lot about, and that is the medical staff standards. If you could briefly describe why you took the path that you did and why you thought it important to convene a task force to revisit the standards, which, I believe, take affect July of 2009.
[00:03:43.02] Mark Chassin: The medical staff standards that have been discussed recently were part of a standards improvement initiative that pulled all of the requirements that had previously been in several different places in our standards manual together in one place. And they produced some controversy, as the field looked at all of them, all of them together. We have convened a task force of very broadly representative folks from across all of the constituencies that are concerned, to give us some more advice about how we can implement this standard. And the purpose of this standard is really to make sure that we have some guidance for hospitals and medical staffs about how to come together and work jointly with jointly agreed upon policies and procedures, to achieve safety and quality in their organizations.
I think there has been some overreaction and some overinterpretation of some of the language in the standard, and I expect that the most contentious issues that have arisen in this debate will be resolved by a much more clear understanding of what the intent of the standard is, which is not to disrupt well-functioning medical staffs and governing bodies, and that will become clear as we go forward with this process.
[00:05:12.10] David Burda: Very good, Dr. Chassin, thanks for meeting with us today.
[00:05:14.08] Mark Chassin: Its a pleasure.