America’s hospitals continue to improve performance on quality measures, despite important changes that took place in 2015 and the related challenges. Since The Joint Commission began following performance on core quality measures in 2002, the measures followed from year to year have changed as hospitals made progress and the bar was incrementally raised. The last two years have been notable for the number of accountability measures retired due to excellent quality performance: 20 accountability measures were retired after results in 2014 demonstrated that hospitals are consistently using these evidence-based interventions in the care of patients. This incredible success should not be forgotten, even though we took a hiatus from the Top Performer program during 2016 to address new quality improvement challenges. In this year’s America’s Hospitals: Improving Quality and Safety – The Joint Commission’s Annual Report 2016, the data shows significant progress on the quality measures that were introduced in the last few years.
Other important transitions took place in 2015 based on feedback from our customers. The Joint Commission introduced flexible options that allowed hospitals to report performance data on electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs), chart-abstracted measures, or both. These reporting options align The Joint Commission as closely as possible to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting Program.
To support hospitals in making the transition to eCQM reporting, The Joint Commission introduced the Pioneers in Quality™ program and coordinated it with the Core Measure Solution Exchange®. We encourage hospitals to make full use of the quality improvement resources found in both places – resources that grow more vital with each passing day. During this initial year of the Pioneers in Quality™ program, The Joint Commission is recognizing accredited hospitals that have assisted us in launching the program and helped us to develop mechanisms to assist other organizations to meet the challenges in utilizing and reporting eCQMs. Going forward, we plan to introduce a new recognition program within the coming months with new criteria for highlighting “pioneering” hospitals that are on the forefront of using eCQMs and are sharing their lessons learned with others.
Performance improvement in health care is a long journey due to the complexity of coordinating evidence-based interventions in thousands of hospital settings and among even more health care team members. The Joint Commission incorporates performance measurement reporting into both its accreditation and Disease-Specific Care Certification programs as an essential part of this effort. We believe that care processes and patient outcomes can be improved and sustained only through the gathering and analysis of performance data and by an organized and comprehensive approach to performance improvement. Each year, this report shows that hospitals continue to pass significant milestones while setting their sights on new challenges ahead. The Joint Commission remains a source of assistance and encouragement as hospitals make their way to consistent, excellent care for every patient.