Accredited Health Care Providers Rejoice: The Joint Commission is Eliminating 14% of its Standards Across Accreditation Programs

03 January 2023 Health Care Law Today Blog
Author(s): Alan H. Einhorn Olivia Benjamin (King)

On Wednesday, December 21, 2022, The Joint Commission announced that, effective January 1, 2023, it is eliminating 168 (or 14%) of its accreditation standards across its accreditation programs, and revising 14 more. The Joint Commission accredits many different categories of health care providers, including hospitals, critical access hospitals, assisted living communities, ambulatory care organizations, home care entities, and laboratories. 

The accreditation programs and associated standards that will be impacted by The Joint Commission changes are as follows: 

  • Hospital: 56 standards deleted and four revised
  • Critical Access Hospital: 37 standards deleted and four revised
  • Ambulatory Health Care: 20 standards deleted and one revised
  • Behavioral Health Care and Human Services: 9 standards deleted and one revised
  • Home Care: 10 standards deleted and one revised
  • Laboratory Services: six standards deleted and one revised
  • Nursing Care Center: 12 standards deleted and one revised
  • Office-Based Surgery: 18 standards deleted and one revised

The impetus underlying these changes was the desire to streamline standards and decrease administrative burdens for health care providers. The announcement followed a comprehensive review (announced in September 2022) of The Joint Commission standards to determine, in each instance, whether (1) the standard addressed an important quality and safety issue; (2) the standard was redundant; and (3) the time and resources needed to comply with the standard were commensurate with the standard’s estimated benefit to patient care and health outcomes. The review also took into account the opinions of experts within the field. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved The Joint Commission’s proposed elimination and revision of standards, and confirmed that the eliminated and revised standards would not diminish or reduce CMS’ own regulatory requirements.

In addition to its standards changes, The Joint Commission announced that it is not raising its accreditation fees for domestic hospitals in 2023, in recognition of the financial challenges hospitals and health systems are facing currently.  

Many state and federal agencies responsible for certifying or licensing health care providers accept The Joint Commission accreditation as deemed compliance with their own safety and quality-related certification and licensure standards. For those health care providers that seek The Joint Commission accreditation, and particularly those providers that rely on The Joint Commission accreditation for state and/or federal certification or licensure purposes, The Joint Commission’s announcement that it is streamlining its accreditation programs and processes is welcome news, as it signals a likely reduction in the financial, staffing and administrative burdens associated with achieving and maintaining such accreditation (and/or certification or licensure).  

Those interested may access the full list of soon to be eliminated and revised standards on The Joint Commission’s website. Note that The Joint Commission is also reviewing a second set of standards for potential elimination or revision. An announcement relating to those standards is expected in about six months.

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