Some providers unsure if task force will make a difference

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations’ task force for reviewing its standards is expected to produce a bounty of recommendations for improvements, but not everyone is giddy about the possibility. Though the task force is just now getting started with its work, some health care providers already are shrugging their shoulders and dismissing the effort as a lot of bureaucratic lip service.

Ken Shull, FACHE, president of the South Carolina Hospital Association in West Columbia and chairman of the task force, tells Hospital Peer Review that he already has heard providers take a negative attitude. That is understandable to some extent, he says. The Joint Commission’s image among some as indifferent and detached from reality was part of the reason the task force was formed with people on the front lines who actually have to comply with the standards. So Shull says he is not surprised that people look at the task force with skepticism, but he is confident that they will be pleasantly surprised.

"I’m hearing two reactions from people. Some are absolutely welcoming the task force, and there also is some cynicism," he says. "It’s not surprising to hear people say they’ve had these standards for years and nothing is going to change. We’ll just have to show them that we’re serious about it."

Shull says his work with the Joint Commission administrators so far has convinced him that they are sincere in wanting to improve the standards. Still, he doesn’t fault providers for being skeptical up to a point. Just give the task force a chance before dismissing it entirely, he asks.

"People see the Joint Commission as a bureaucracy that can’t do anything right, and some people are just cynical going into anything," he says. "Some people are just weaned on a pickle and end up with a sour outlook on life. It may take a lot longer to convince those folks, but I’m hoping we’ll produce some changes that even they can’t argue with."