In late December, the Joint Commission announced a “major standards reduction” – the elimination of 168 accreditation standards (14%) and the revision of 14 others – “to streamline requirements and make them as efficient and impactful on patient safety, quality and equity as possible.”
While not diminishing Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations and guidance, the Joint Commission changes “provide some much-needed relief to healthcare professionals and organizations as they continue to recover from the pandemic,” said Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, MACP, FACMI, president and CEO of The Joint Commission, in a news release.
The changes impact nearly the entire continuum of healthcare: hospitals, critical access, ambulatory health care, behavioral health care and human services, home care, laboratory services, nursing care and office-based surgery centers. And the breadth of these changes – from medication and patient safety to environmental and leadership – is meaningful as it acknowledges the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare system.
And we’re just getting started.
Ongoing, systemic changes
The initial ripple effects of the pandemic related to infection prevention and care led to a wave of healthcare staff shortages, interruptions in procedures and protocols, rising healthcare-associated (HAI) infection rates, and supply chain issues exacerbated by inflation and raw material shortages. As a result:
With staff shortages and limited resources expected to continue, we may need to reassess some of our care models, and rethink CMS provider reimbursement and the FDA approval processes for pharmaceuticals and products. In fact, we may need to reevaluate our entire healthcare system. Right now, we’re at a starting point, with healthcare likely to continue to evolve. Five years from now, when we look at some of the pre-pandemic healthcare processes and protocols, we know they are going to be different.
The importance of recognizing and communicating challenges
For overwhelmed clinicians and providers, recognizing the ongoing challenges amidst so much change – what’s keeping you up at night – may be the first step in alleviating stress and improving efficiencies and care. It’s also important to recognize that you are not alone, as most healthcare providers are dealing with the same staff, resource and other issues.