What is JCAHO?

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What is JCAHO?

‘JCAHO’ stands for ‘Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.’  As its name suggests, this organization is involved with accrediting healthcare institutions across the U.S. for the purpose of monitoring the quality of services that these institutions provide. ‘JCAHO’ is now known as the ‘Joint Commission’ and is also involved with evaluating the health services standards of healthcare facilities, laboratories, and other health services organization in the U.S.

JCAHO was established in 1951 and holds its official headquarters in the state of Illinois.  Since then, JCAHO, or the Joint Commission, has already accredited almost 20,000 healthcare facilities and health services programs across the United States.  JCAHO works as a non-profit organization and is run by several board members representing various sectors in the healthcare industry.

The accreditation and evaluation program under JCAHO basically runs on a three-year cycle of health facilities and a two-year cycle for laboratories.  Basically, hospitals and clinics will be surveyed and evaluated based on standard healthcare guidelines as determined by the Joint Commission.  The overall objective is to check whether the services offered by a certain healthcare facility are at par with the standards set by the Joint Commission.  Results of the evaluation are not made public, but facilities that comply with the guidelines are given their respective accreditation certificates and awards.  One basic feature of the evaluation and accreditation process is the so-called ‘Unannounced Survey’ which literally means that healthcare facilities will be evaluated on an ‘unannounced date.’  This is done to ensure that the actual state of the services will be evaluated accordingly.  The surprise facility visit and evaluation was also intended to address criticisms of the previous evaluation cycle practice wherein facilities were notified ahead of the visit.  With this previous practice, various experts have criticized JCAHO, or the Joint Commission, simply because the facilities were able to prepare ahead of the evaluation date making the results unreliable or even invalid.

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