JCAHO to open up access to hospital data
At its meeting last week, the Board of Commissioners of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) took a series of actions that will free up access to its database of quality and performance information pertaining to hospitals. Recently JCAHO had dabbled with the idea that it might sell this performance information commercially to third-party payers, but back in November 2005 that plan was killed after complaints from the hospital industry.
The new idea is to open up access to organizations or individuals that want it to enhance the depth and transparency of the publicly available, quality-related performance information. The organization plans to provide new information resources to support quality improvement efforts in hospitals and other healthcare organizations. 

The organization’s Board also framed a series of rationales and data element justifications as the basis for initiating a dialogue with the hospital field around potential Joint Commission acquisition of case-identified data that would protect patient privacy.
“In the current environment, the meticulous collection and meaningful portrayal of relevant quality data and information have become equally vital to hospitals, practitioners, purchasers, and the public,” said Dennis S. O’Leary, MD, president, JCAHO. “The Joint Commission is committed to doing whatever it can to meet these needs.”

The organization also approved a new public policy initiative that will address the development of a national strategy for the gathering, preparation, and dissemination of performance data. JCAHO underscored the urgency addressing the issues surrounding the creation of a national public utility for performance measurement data; the potential design of a national data system that could meet multiple stakeholder needs; and how best to protect patient confidentiality in such a system, among other issues, the JCAHO said.
In coming months the JCAHO will organize discussions with healthcare stakeholders to develop agreeable means through which this information can become available.