Joint Commission to review, revise quality standards

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The Joint Commission will review and analyze each of its quality standards with an eye toward revising or eliminating measures to better focus on patient safety and support overwhelmed healthcare workers bogged down by reporting requirements, President and CEO Dr. Jonathan Perlin said Wednesday.

“We asked ourselves, ‘If everything is important, then what is really important?’” Perlin said. “How would we look at our standards and identify those that are most meaningful in driving safety, quality, equity and value?”

Health system performance is gauged by hundreds of quality and safety measures, and they must meet certain thresholds to qualify for federal dollars. Tracking and complying with these metrics requires significant effort and some of the metrics are “obsolete, or feel arbitrary or outside of their control,” Perlin said.

Amid widespread burnout among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other regulators have sought to ease the compliance burden and to waive quality requirements deemed unnecessary.

The Joint Commission plans to name the first major set of standards to be retired in January, Perlin said. The aim is to facilitate health system adherence to measures that are more relevant to quality improvement, he said. The accrediting organization recently reviewed its emergency management standards, and reduced the constituent elements of performance from 124 to 60, he said.

The broader review will scrutinize about 500 quality measures that exceed the minimum standards set by CMS and entities such as Occupational Health and Safety Administration and National Fire Protection Association. 

Perlin said this process will involve qualitatively and quantitatively analyzing each measure, scanning for scoring patterns, and testing for redundancy. The Joint Commission and its outside advisers will assess whether the time and resources need to comply with a requirement outweighs its benefits to patients.

The Joint Commission plans to release updates every six months after January on additional revisions in collaboration with field experts, accredited organizations and professional societies, Perlin said.

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