Why a visit from The Joint Commission can be a good thing for IT

While no doubt stressful, a survey with The Joint Commission (TJC) can bolster a hospital's IT department, according to Sarah Richardson, CIO at Naples, Florida-based NCH Healthcare System.

A lot of work goes into a Joint Commission visit, she says in a recent blog post, and the most recent survey was especially helpful for her team because they've been together for less than a year.

"[I]t has been a year of learning and aligning as we embark upon a robust agenda for the future," she says.

The discussions during the week focused on standardization, documentation, analytics, reporting and system solutions.

"We knew our opportunities for improvement going into the survey," Richardson says. "From conversations with TJC, we have input and feedback that we are on the right path and the journey to get there."

The IT team has specific goals to support the mission and vision of the organization, including providing applications in alignment with the various departments, staying two steps ahead of the system infrastructure roadmap and delivering the right projects at the right time and on budget. Its deliverables include providing new approaches to population health, improving physician and clinician experience and security.

"It's about understanding where we want to be and how we get there," she says.

Health IT has had a "dramatic" effect on improving patient safety, one of  TJC's major concerns, according to an Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT issue brief.

One of the proposals for the new federal health Information technology safety center--which will be referred to as a Safety Collaboratory going forward--is to use random, preferably unannounced, on-site assessments of complex organizations by an independent entity such as The Joint Commission.

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