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The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations

The phenomenal increases in health care costs have become a central issue of concern to the business community. The centrality of concern for the provision of quality health care to the people is logical. According Terlaak and King (23), three interrelated premises underlie the perception that there is the constant need to review our health care providers and ensure that they meet minimum set standards, that is, they impact on the bottom line, and they meet the rising demand in health care provision and adequately address the rising costs of disease incidence. The federal government remains a major influence in health care provision. This is because health care organizations are likely to be regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. “Another entity with which health care organizations likely interact is an accrediting body, the best known being the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)” (Noble, 32)

The critical role of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is the improvement of the safety and quality of heath care by clearly “outlining the standards through survey evaluations, sentinel event alerts, and professional consulting services to health care organizations” (Paradise, 1) In its central capacity as an accrediting body, “JCAHO evaluates and accredits approximately 18,000 health care organizations, including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs), health care networks, and clinical laboratories.” (Paradise, 1)The provision of quality healthcare has been a hot topic for decades. Thus is because healthcare costs have continued to soar and the humanity is faced by ever complicated medical conditions. Through continuous evaluation and accreditation of heath care organizations and programs, JCAHO ensures that patient safety remain the major concern in its course of health care institutions assessment. Such parameters that includes the achievement of accreditation form JCAHO is an indicator to high levels of attainment of patients’ safety. This is in view of the fact that research suggests that the adoption of the standardized frameworks can help health care organizations align their practices better towards effective and quality provision of their services. The evaluative and accreditation roles of JCAHO are based on the premise that there is need for close integration of strategy formulation with operational improvements and keen focus on a range of contingent processes aimed at enhancing the abilities of health care providers align their policies and guidelines in ways that takes keen consideration of the safety of the patients.

In a broader sense, the accreditation and evaluation of health care practices definitely helps in the yielding of a seamless transition from the inadequacy in the handling of the medical provision services to activities that ensures that the strategic intents are attained. In addition to the above, an examination on the roles of JCAHO in the evaluation and accreditation of health care organizations has demonstrated that implementing the quality and continuous improvement in the operational practices in health care organizations as embodied in the JCAHO philosophy can enhance firm competitiveness within the health care organizations in regard to quality health care provision (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, 4).

In the opinion of Gluck and Hassig(28), the achievements of accreditation standards and certifications has the proven capacity to help health care organizations sustain high levels health care provision practices in the long term through continuous audits and recertification programs. This belief is supported by Noble (18), who view that achievements of accreditation certification are a pointer to the participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

For health care organizations to successfully implement safe practices in their services provision, it has been established from the previous discussion that as well as having clear guidelines and an implementation plan, firms need to develop long term strategies, attain management commitment, gain employees commitment and develop a culture that readily embraces the JCAHO practices. These same critical factors are stressed in many management standards. A safe assumption therefore would be in order, when we suggest that adopting JCAHO certification standards system may in fact help health care organizations achieve more success in implementing and sustaining their standards.

The achievement of the JCAHO certification stresses the continuing benefits conferred throughout the health care organization, including an attitude of total involvement and mutual responsibility across the practice. Gluck and Hassig (31) concluded that health care organizations that have successfully attained the JCAHO standards with a true motivation towards improving organization efficiency attained their goals. In their opinion, the adoption of these standards acts as an entry point to TQM (total quality management) as the adoption of these standards ‘offers a shift in quality thinking from final inspection to more modern quality approaches such as process management in health care, system approach, customer focus and continual improvement’. Gluck and Hassig (33) stress that in order to “reap maximum benefits; the standards should be implemented within a continuous improvement framework where ‘organization-wide employees’ participation is the norm”

In the appreciation that there in a continuous demand for provision of quality health care, it is a demonstrated fact that no matter what industry, company, or nationality, more and more organizations are recognizing the fact that they have to invest more in their quality of their services are to gain any competitive advantage in the market. Health care services remain the cornerstone of a nation and determine the quality of life of a nation. There is therefore the need for health care organizations to adhere to set standards of the industry to avoid the compromising of our health standards.

The adherence of these standards in line with the industry regulations and policies requires the input of employees who are committed, experienced and technologically literate, globally astute and operationally agile. In order to address the issue of identifying and employing the best policies in regard to these standards, certification in regard to health care provision is important. The central role of these certifications is not particularly hard to discern. These certifications will pinpoint that the particular health care organization has effectively and successfully kept up with emerging trends in the health care industry. Another advantage of adherence to the set standards in the health care industry is that it provides the organization with a documented credential of proficiency in the provision of its services.

The successful adherence to industry standards and certification also gives an organization some sense of personal achievement and gratification, greater confidence, and some competitive edge over health care organizations that have failed to successfully achieve high standards of policy and regulations adherence. The general observation made is that although a lot of organizations have rushed to embrace full adherence to policy regulations and certifications, there has been a demonstrated benefits amongst those that have successfully achieved this feat.

As can be seen from the available articles on the need for health care organizations to adhere to the industry policies and guidelines, the perception of the benefits to be achieved through these steps are not only beneficial to the organizations but are also a pointer to the quality of the nation’s health. In conclusion, the ability to ensure our health care organizations adhere to the set standards in the health care industry is a measure to our levels of life expectancy which is a critical indicator to our economic strength.