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Joint Commission announces new TAP for eligible hospitals

The Joint Commission this week announced its new Telehealth Accreditation Program for eligible hospitals, ambulatory and behavioral healthcare organizations.

The program, with an effective date of July 1, is designed to offer updated and more streamlined standards to help organizations offering telehealth services put structures and processes in place to help deliver safer and higher-quality virtual care.

Why it matters
The new Telehealth Accreditation Program was developed, the commission says, specifically for healthcare organizations that exclusively provide care, treatment and services via telehealth.

The new program’s requirements are similar to other Joint Commission accreditations, such as requirements for information management, patient identification, medication management, and credentialing and privileging.

But there are requirements specific to the new accreditation program, such as streamlined emergency management requirements to address providing care and clinical support remotely rather than in a physical building.

Additionally, there are new standards – which may be filtered based on the modality or service provided – for provider and patient education about the use of telehealth platforms and devices – as well as other new standards focused on virtual care equipment, devices and connectivity.

Hospitals and health systems with written agreements in place to provide care, treatment and services via telehealth to another organization’s patients have the option to apply for the new accreditation, according to the Joint Commission, which will also replace existing telehealth and technology accreditations in its Ambulatory Health Care and Behavioral Health Care and Human Services programs.

The larger trend
The independent, nonprofit Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest (founded in 1951) and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in healthcare, accrediting and certifying more than 22,000 healthcare organizations and programs across the United States.

In recent decades, one of its big focuses has been on health information technology, such as EHR safety features, handoff alerts, patient education, clinical quality metrics, health equity and more.

On the record
“The use of telehealth in the United States increased 154% during early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic and stabilized at levels 38 times higher than levels in 2019,” said Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, president and chief executive officer of the Joint Commission in a statement.

“As telehealth continues to evolve, it was imperative to create a new accreditation program to provide a framework to support the integrity of patient safety regardless of the care setting,” he added. “Our new Telehealth Accreditation Program helps organizations standardize care and reduce risk,” he added, “so that all patients, including those obtaining services remotely, receive the safest, highest-quality care with outcomes consistent with traditional settings.” Healthcare IT News

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