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2023 Joint Commission Alignment with CMS

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Beginning in 2023, the Joint Commission eliminated certain standards in order to align with the standards set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This change is designed to streamline the accreditation process and reduce the burden on healthcare organizations. These updates took effect on January 1, 2023, and affect all accredited organizations, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, behavioral health care facilities, and home care organizations.  So what do they mean for your facility?

Patient Safety Culture

One of the significant changes in the 2023 updates is the addition of a new standard on patient safety culture, which will require organizations to assess and improve the culture of safety within their organization. This includes implementing processes for gathering and analyzing patient safety data, as well as taking appropriate action to address any identified issues.

Electronic Health Records

One of the major areas where the Joint Commission and CMS standards have been aligned is in the requirement for the use of electronic health records (EHRs). Both organizations now require healthcare organizations to have a fully functional EHR system in place and to demonstrate that the system is being used effectively to improve patient care.

Infection Prevention and Control

Another notable update is the revision of the standard on infection prevention and control. The new standard emphasizes the importance of preventing the spread of infectious diseases in healthcare settings, and requires organizations to implement effective strategies for preventing and controlling infections, such as hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, and environmental cleaning.

Emergency Management

Additionally, the Joint Commission has added a new standard on emergency management, which will require organizations to develop and maintain an emergency management program that is capable of responding to various types of emergencies, including natural disasters, cyber security, pandemics, and acts of terrorism.

Medication Management

The Joint Commission has also made changes to several existing standards, such as the standard on medication management, which now includes a requirement for organizations to ensure that all medications used in the facility are stored, dispensed, and administered in a safe and secure manner.

Water Management 

The water management plan continues to be a focus during the survey. The recommendation is to follow the Joint Commission Standards only and not ASHRAE 188 since this is considered a recommendation. If your organization continues to follow 188 guidelines, you will be surveyed to a higher standard. 

Physical Environment of Care

One of the major changes is the elimination of certain requirements for the physical environment of care, such as the requirement for specific types of flooring or the number of electrical outlets in patient rooms. These requirements were previously part of the Joint Commission's standards for accreditation, but have now been deemed unnecessary as they are already covered by CMS regulations. 

The Joint Commission also adopted the new FGI guidelines and will be looking at new construction and verifying that the new standards are in line with those guidelines. 

Another benefit of this change is that it allows healthcare organizations to have more flexibility in designing and constructing new facilities or renovating existing ones. They can now make decisions based on the specific needs of their patients and communities rather than being constrained by unnecessary standards.

In conclusion, these updates focus on improving patient safety culture, preventing the spread of infectious diseases, and responding effectively to emergencies, among others. It is essential for healthcare organizations to review and understand these changes and take appropriate action to ensure compliance with the new standards. Overall, the elimination & alignment of these standards is a positive change for healthcare organizations as it allows them to focus their resources on meeting the most important requirements for accreditation. 

*Co-written with a former Joint Commission surveyor & Healthcare Facility Director

Seven Joint Commission regulatory changes to better align with CMS standards for 2023.

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