On July 1, The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) released its 2009 revised standards, rationales and elements of performance. The new standards will take effect on January 1, 2009.

Although no new requirements have been added, JCAHO did revise the standards and included chapter overviews, introductions, rationales and elements of performance for ease of use. The changes are part of the Standards Improvement Initiative (SII) launched in 2006 as part of JCAHO’s ongoing quality improvement efforts. SII focuses on clarifying standards language, ensuring that standards are program-specific, deleting redundant and nonessential standards, and consolidating similar standards. According to Mark R. Chassin, MD, president of JCAHO, the changes are aimed at better guiding healthcare organizations in providing patients with the best care possible.

The Joint Commission will engage in extensive education efforts and discussions in the coming months to assist in understanding the changes. The timetable for the release of the new standards, manuals and scoring information follows:

  • August 2008: Scoring information will be posted to the website;
  • September 2008: Hard copy manuals will be available for Phase 1 programs (ambulatory, hospital, critical access hospital, home care, office-based surgery);
  • November 2008: Hard copy manuals will be available for Phase 2 programs (behavioral healthcare, laboratory services, long term care); and
  • November 2008: Single-user access to E-dition (electronic manuals) will be available for all accreditation customers.

A “pre-publication preview” of the standards (not typically published online) is available at http://www.jointcommission.org/Standards/SII/.