What is Joint Commission accreditation like for a virtual hospital? That is actually a trick question. It isn’t any different from a brick-and-mortar hospital: a rigorous review by a team of surveyors with expertise in ambulatory health care.
Access TeleCare was the first telemedicine organization to earn The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval in 2006 and has maintained the accreditation each year since.
Just like for hospitals providing medical care with on-site clinicians, Access TeleCare is evaluated for compliance with standards related to a variety of areas, including coordination of care, physician credentialing, management of medications, monitoring of clinical quality, operational infrastructure, security, and emergency procedures. “The only difference is that our patients are not onsite,” says Vanisa Patel, Access TeleCare quality, regulatory & accreditation leader.
“Telemedicine IS medicine,” says Patti Griffin, Access TeleCare vice president of clinical quality. “Ours are not different standards of care because our hospital is virtual. All the medical professionals and staff at Access TeleCare know what they are getting into in working here. We run a tight ship, down to the smallest details, and no one is exempt.”
“My number one priority is patient safety,” says Patel, “just like my counterparts at hospitals nationwide. We take our compliance with nationally-recognized standards of care seriously, and work hard to provide the same quality care that patients expect from their onsite teams.”
An independent nonprofit organization founded in 1951, The Joint Commission, commonly referred to as TJC, is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Established in 1975, its Ambulatory Health Care Accreditation Program encourages high-quality patient care in all types of freestanding ambulatory care facilities. Today, the Ambulatory Health Care Accreditation Program serves 2,100 ambulatory care providers, with more than 8,500 sites of care, which, in turn, serve more than 83 million patient visits annually.
Joint Commission accreditation reflects an organization’s compliance with nationally-recognized standards of care and is valid for three years. “It shows that we are laser-focused on patient safety and our performance,” says Griffin. “It provides public acknowledgement that we meet stringent standards for the telemedicine consults we conduct.”