Joint Commission Releases Communication, Patient-centered Care Requirements for Review

Matt Phillion, for HealthLeaders Media , June 10, 2009

In its ongoing effort to improve communication and quality of care, The Joint Commission released proposed requirements for field review in the areas of advancing effective communication, cultural competence, and patient-centered care. These proposed requirements will be open for comment for six weeks beginning this Monday.

The Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-Centered Care (ECCCPC) concept acknowledges that effective communication is needed to ensure patient safety, but can often be hampered by barriers of language and culture, as well as physical impairments like sight and hearing, and other causes—a lack of health literacy, cognitive impairments, disease, disability.

"We do need to advance communication and cultural competence," says Elizabeth Di Giacomo-Geffers, RN, MPH, CSHA, a healthcare consultant in Trabuco Canyon, CA, and former Joint Commission surveyor. "This is nothing new in concept. The Joint Commission has always been involved in this. And this is what nurses do—patient center care."

The program also targets racial and ethnic health disparities, which have been linked to poorer health outcomes—and lower quality of care.

"We have a mosaic entering both coasts of cultural diversity. We need to tune in to cultural competencies," says Di Giacomo-Geffers.

It is not clear yet if it will be implemented for all programs though it most likely, says Di Giacomo-Geffers.

"My first reaction is that this is excellent," says Di Giacomo-Geffers. "We'll need time to digest the standard. They're identifying 17 chapters."

Di Giacomo-Geffers recommends reviewing what is effective communication and what are patient-specific needs.

"Hospitals need to take a look at this, review them, and I encourage everybody to make their comments to The Joint Commission about those issues they feel are opportunities for improvement as well as opportunities that may be difficult or challenging or them to implement," Di Giacomo-Geffers.

At the earliest, The Joint Commission hopes to have proposed requirements implemented by January 2011.

"I think a lot of this we have in place," Di Giacomo-Geffers. "There are some things that are going to take a little work on our part. It's important to identify those parts that are going to take a while to implement. I applaud them. This is a much needed part of care."

The proposed revisions can be found on The Joint Commission's Web site.

Matt Phillion, CSHA, is senior managing editor of Briefings on The Joint Commission and senior editorial advisor for the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals (AHAP).

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