The 21st Annual Liaison Network Forum convened August 14 at The Joint Commission’s headquarters in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. I had the pleasure of representing AHDI and our community of healthcare documentation specialists and industry partners. Throughout the event, important issues to our community were brought to The Joint Commission’s attention and heard by other healthcare associations in attendance. We made important headway in advocating for quality and integrity in healthcare documentation and raising awareness among a group of influential stakeholders.

21st Annual Liaison Network Forum

21st Annual Liaison Network Forum

Over the course of the two-day Forum, a variety of topics were covered, such as protecting patient information with the use of mobile technology, transitions of care, the redesign of the sentinel event policies (which will become a chapter on patient safety), and panel discussions with The Joint Commission senior staff and Standards Interpretation Group. The meeting started with an update from Dr. Mark Chassin, President and CEO of The Joint Commission.

Dr. Chassin’s presentation focused on The Joint Commission’s roadmap to creating high reliability healthcare organizations with zero patient harm. He provided an overview of “the new Joint Commission,” discussing their strong commitment to customer focus; a greatly improved, more flexible accreditation process; data stating that accredited hospitals do better in quality and financial performance compared to non-accredited hospitals; and their commitment to creating and delivering quality solutions. The Joint Commission now has more than 20,000 customers in the United States spread across ambulatory care, behavioral health, certification, home care, hospitals, laboratories, and long-term care.

Dr.Chassin captivated the audience as he walked through a variety of recent reports in the media on medical errors that included wrong-site surgeries and 141 patients who received unnecessary stents in 2010. As we sat on the edge of our seats, he detailed a case where an invasive procedure was given to the wrong patient. Dr. Chassin walked us through the defenses/processes that failed in this case, noting that most were small and no single error caused the event, and how high-reliability healthcare would prevent such situations. The Joint Commission created a roadmap and model for high-reliability healthcare and Dr. Chassin reported that some hospitals and systems are beginning to commit to the goal. At the Forum, we learned about specific tools available from The Joint Commission to support the “goal of zero harm” through the Center for Transforming Healthcare and the Targeted Solutions ToolTM (tst).

On Wednesday afternoon there was a Leadership Panel session with senior Joint Commission staff available to answer questions. AHDI asked if The Joint Commission would be developing quality measures on EHR documentation and auditing guidelines. Ann Scott Blouin, RN, PhD, FACHE, Executive Vice President, Customer Relations, and Mary Brockway, MS, RN, Director, Department of Standards and Survey Methods, addressed our question. They said The Joint Commission would not necessarily develop auditing guidelines; however, they are currently studying quality issues in EHR documentation. They recently met with a health information technology expert and conducted a review of documentation issues from 40 hospitals. They found a variety of recurring themes around specific issues (e.g., interoperability, copy and paste, quality, and safety), which have been written up in a paper. I’ve requested a copy of the paper and I expect to receive it soon. Ms. Brockway reported that they had recently met with someone to discuss the roles of medical transcriptionists in documentation quality. She emphasized that data is needed and The Joint Commission would welcome receiving it from AHDI.

The Joint Commission’s next steps on the EHR quality issue are unclear at this time and I will be seeking clarification on their plans to distribute the paper on this subject. At this time, it’s extremely important for AHDI to secure the resources to conduct a follow-up to the 2009 error study across a variety of documentation capture methods in order to report data to The Joint Commission.

It’s important to note that the discussion on quality documentation struck a chord with a good number of other attendees. I fielded a handful of questions throughout the event on this issue and people were interested to learn more about the role of medical transcriptionists/healthcare documentation specialists. At the end of this post, you’ll find a list of organizations that were represented at the Liaison Network Forum.

Given the focus of The Joint Commission on high-reliability healthcare, the attention to quality documentation, and the visibility of AHDI among key Joint Commission staff leaders, the time is ripe for us to progress our strategic vision and mission through active participation and collaboration with The Joint Commission. We will keep you updated as we look at how to organize a follow-up research study and facilitate additional talks with The Joint Commission.

Organizations Represented at the Liaison Network Forum:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Ambulatory Surgery Center Association
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Physician Assistants
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
  • American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
  • American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
  • American Health Information Management Association
  • American Medical Association
  • American Music Therapy Association
  • American Occupational Therapy Association
  • American Organization of Nurse Executives
  • American Physical Therapy Association
  • American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
  • American Society for Clinical Pathology
  • American Society for Cytotechnology
  • American Society for Histocompatability & Immunogenetics
  • American Society for Pain Management Nursing
  • American Society of Anesthesiologists
  • American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
  • American Society of Radiologic Technologists
  • Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity
  • Association for Linen Management
  • Association of Occupational Health Professionals
  • Association of Professional Chaplains
  • Association of Rehabilitation Nurses
  • Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
  • Business Advisory Group
  • Coalition of Rehab Therapy Organizations
  • College of American Pathologists
  • Division of Quality Assurance/Department of Health Services, State of WI
  • Emergency Nurses Association
  • Federation of State Medical Boards
  • Informed Patient Institute
  • J.B. Jenkins / South Chicago Foot and Ankle Surgery Center
  • Medical Library Association, Hospital Library Section
  • Missouri Department of Mental Health
  • National Association for Healthcare Quality
  • National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers
  • National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
  • National Black Nurses Association
  • National Business Group on Health
  • National Council on Interpreting in Health Care
  • National League for Nursing
  • National Society for Histotechnology
  • National Surgical Hospitals
  • Oncology Nursing Society
  • Physicians Hospitals of America
  • Saint Thomas Health
  • Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies
  • The COMISS Network

-Linda G. Brady, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, AHDI

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