News Briefs

Joint Commission offers ISO certification

Starting early next year, hospitals that are interested can achieve both accreditation and ISO certification in various best practices. The Joint Commission is joining with SGS for the program, which will ensure that facilities meet both quality and safety standards mandated by TJC, as well as performance measures related to ISO standards.

ISO standards relate to management systems and efficiencies, as well as effect on the environment. They can be applied across every department and are increasingly popular with hospitals, says Ann Scott Blouin, RN, Ph.D., FACHE, executive vice president of accreditation and certification operations for The Joint Commission.

The ISO certification can be customized based on hospital preferences to include the entire facility, a whole system, or just particular departments. They can also choose from among several ISO certifications, including 9001 for quality management systems, ISO 14001 for environmental management, ISO 27001 for information security, OSHAS 18001 for occupational health and safety, ISO 17025 for testing and calibration laboratories, and certification for food safety testing and certification.

The Joint Commission accreditation decision and the SGS ISO certification decision are separate. The survey activities of SGS and The Joint Commission can be combined during the organization's routine accreditation survey approximately every three years. A surveillance or recertification audit is conducted by SGS annually.

HAIs in AHRQ's sights with new grants

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has awarded $34 million in grants to a variety of healthcare organizations to work on ways to fight healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

According to AHRQ, nearly one in 20 patients in hospitals will get such an infection. The hope is to reduce the incidence and the costs associated with such infections. These awards include projects to develop, test and spread the use of new modules of the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP), a proven method to prevent and reduce healthcare-associated infections. The new modules target catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical-site infections, and ventilator-associated pneumonia. The latter module will be tested in two states with money from the HHS Office of Healthcare Quality. The CUSP program is already being used for bloodstream infections related to central lines.

CUSP is a multi-pronged program that promotes a culture of patient safety, improved communication and teamwork among unit staff members, and the use of tools, including checklists, to support implementation of evidence-based HAI prevention practices, such as hand-washing and removing unnecessary catheters, that are based on guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A recent report from the ongoing AHRQ-funded project that is implementing CUSP to reduce CLABSI found that these infections were reduced by an average of 33%.

Other newly funded projects include research on ways of reducing infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile; the use of healthcare facility design to reduce HAIs; and alignment of work system factors to maximize and sustain successful HAI reduction efforts. A novel 36-month project will synthesize the results of AHRQ-funded HAI projects in fiscal years 2007-2010. The goals of the project are to identify and promote the application of effective HAI prevention approaches and to identify gaps in the HAI science base that can be filled with additional research.

The agency's ongoing work helps attain the goals of the Partnership for Patients, a national, public-private partnership of hospitals, employers, physicians, nurses, consumers, state and federal governments and other key stakeholders. The partnership aims to reduce the incidence of HAIs and other preventable hospital-acquired conditions by 40% (compared with 2010 rates) by 2013 through widespread adoption of evidence-based practices. Achieving this goal should result in approximately 1.8 million fewer injuries and illnesses to patients and more than 60,000 lives saved.

CMS approves 500 FQHCs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in late October 2011 that 500 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) were selected for the FQHC advanced primary care practice (APCP) demonstration project. The goal is to evaluate the effect of an advanced primary care practice model, called the patient-centered medical home, on improving health, quality and coordination of care, and lowering the cost of care provided to Medicare beneficiaries.

Funded through the Affordable Care Act, the CMS Innovation Center will offer technical support to providers to improve their coordination of care and spread to others the lessons and best practices they've learned.

The APCP demonstration will assess the effect of Medicare paying a care coordination fee to participating FQHC practices for all care coordination and management services. The APCPs are required to offer enhanced access to care through expanded hours, same-day appointments, or priority appointments so patients do not need to seek more costly urgent care services. Also, the APCPs will use a team approach, including nurse coordinators, physician assistants, pharmacists, and social workers, to coordinate health care and other services. A physician or nurse practitioner oversee all services.

FQHCs can access core training modules on topics essential to performing as a patient-centered medical home, including patient-centered care, team-based delivery, use of data/performance feedback for continuous quality improvement, and improving care transitions.

Participating FQHCs will be required to implement practice changes necessary to transform into advanced primary care practices, and CMS will monitor each center's transformative progress by comparing readiness assessment scores at baseline with readiness assessment scores updated every six months.

For more information about medical homes or the program, visit the Innovation Center online at