On June 1, an American Hospital Association (AHA) Quality Advisory notified hospitals that on July 15, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) would release organization-specific performance information on its Web site, www.jcaho.org.  Starting June 4, hospitals had the opportunity to review and check the accuracy of the data posted on their JCAHO extranet site.

The release of this information is an outgrowth of JCAHO-ORYX data-collection work, and is part of JCAHO’s planned strategy to provide the public with quality information on health care provider organizations.  While JCAHO continues to be part of the National Voluntary Hospital Reporting Initiative, also known as the Quality Initiative, the organization-specific data released by JCAHO on July 15 likely will be very different from the quality information data released later this year as part of the Quality Initiative. 

The AHA is committed to the Quality Initiative and views it as the preeminent resource for the public on hospital performance measurement data.  This national initiative is backed by a wide range for groups that include the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Federation of American Hospitals, with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, JCAHO, National Quality Forum, AARP, AFL-CIO, Disclosure Project, American Medical Association and National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions.

This JCAHO initiative, however, is likely to generate questions from your local media and the community, including questions on how it differs from the Quality Initiative.  To help you and your hospital staff prepare, review the following list of to-do items as well as the talking points attached at the end of the advisory. 

  • Make sure you’ve reviewed the JCAHO-posted data.  If you have comments, questions or concerns about the accuracy of the data, contact your performance measurement vendor.
  • Know and understand your present level of performance.  The JCAHO Quality Report will display your hospital’s average score over four quarters of performance.  Be prepared to talk about your progress over time.
  • Share this advisory with your public relations staff, quality officer and medical staff director.
  • Select a spokesperson to respond to the media.  This can be a nurse, physician, other clinician, or quality staff.
  • Be prepared to talk about your participation in the national Quality Initiative, and your hospital’s other quality improvement efforts. 

To view the June 1 AHA Quality Advisory, go to www.aha.org, and click on “Quality and Patient Safety.”  If you have questions on responding to reporters about the JCAHO initiative, please contact Alicia Mitchell, AHA vice president for media relations, at (202) 626-2339 or amitchell@aha.org, or Jennifer Armstrong Gay, AHA senior associate director for media relations, at (202) 626-2342 or jarmstronggay@aha.org.  If you have questions about the JCAHO initiative please contact Don Nielsen, M.D., AHA senior vice president for quality leadership, at (312) 422-2708 or dnielsen@aha.org.  For more information on the Quality Initiative, please contact Nancy Foster, AHA senior associate director for policy, at (202) 626-2337 or nfoster@aha.org.

You may receive calls from the public or the media about the JCAHO’s new quality reports.  Below is a set of talking points that may be helpful in responding.  Please tailor to fit the needs of your organization.

MAIN MESSAGES

  • Reports such as these are just one of the many sources that consumers can use to choose a hospital.  Consumers also gain valuable insights from talking with their physicians, nurses, and friends and family, or reviewing information from the Quality Initiative, the national source on hospital performance data.
  • Patients should get involved in their care and ask questions.  We strongly encourage consumers to discuss any reports or information about their care with their physician.  

If your hospital is part of the Quality Initiative:

  • [NAME OF HOSPITAL] supports sharing information about the quality of care we provide.  That’s why we are part of a national initiative to provide meaningful quality information to consumers.  This public-private project – supported by the federal government, national hospital associations, consumer and purchaser groups, and accrediting bodies – is the premier effort to standardize reports on hospital quality.  A consumer Web site will be launched early next year.

NOTE:  If your organization is not JCAHO-accredited, be prepared to highlight your quality improvement activities, or involvement in any public reporting initiatives such as The Quality Initiative.

 

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