Joint Commission Apes Newt, Takes on IHI

Not content with handing out demerits for bad behavior, the Joint Commission has launched an effort to help those who misbehave change their ways.

As detailed in the Wall Street Journal’s Health Blog, the mission of the Joint Commission’s new Center for Transforming Healthcare will be, in the Journal’s words, “to work on new collaborative programs with leading hospitals and health care systems to find a cause of the most deadly breakdowns in patient care, and put a stop to them.”If the name of the new group sounds familiar, you could be confusing it with Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation. That center was launched by the former House Speaker to tout the benefits of health information technology and a changed reimbursement system and then show how those benefits could work in practice through demonstration projects. Of course, with the advent of the Obama administration, the for-profit center has changed its mission just a tad from Newt-the-Wonk’s, “Paper Kills” to Newt-the-Republican-Attack-Dog’s “Democrats kill.”  Visitors to the Center’s site can now find helpful op-eds with titles like “Healthcare Rationing” and “Listen to Barney Frank or listen to America?”

On the other hand, if the mission of the Joint Commission’s Center for Transforming Healthcare sounds familiar, it could be because assembling a group of hospitals in voluntary collaboratives aimed at solving a specific quality problem through systemic process improvement sounds very similar to what goes on over at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. The non-profit IHI, of course, is led by the charismatic Donald Berwick, MD, MPP. The Joint Commission’s Center, as it happens, is not led by some lower-level staffer but is directly overseen by Joint Commission president Mark Chassin, MD, MPP, MPH, also a charismatic leader, if a very different personality than Berwick.By the way, while Chassin has an extra diploma, Berwick was appointed by the Queen in 2005 as an honorary (all that’s allowed to Americans) Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.Apart from honor, however, there’s the small matter of money. The Joint Commission kicked in $10 million of its own money to start the new center and raised additional funds from the American Hospital Association, GE Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson, among others, according to the Journal. Over five years, the aim is to raise a total of $100 million. IHI reported fiscal 2007 revenues of $43 million, according to its latest tax filing.As a long-time advocate for quality improvement, I’m delighted to see QI flourishing. And there is certainly room for the Joint Commission, IHI and others. But as a Chicagoan, I’m a bit disappointed in the fiscal inefficiency of the effort. For far less than just one million dollars in twenty- and ten-dollar bills, along with the encouragement of a bunch of large men with colorful nicknames who live not far from the Joint Commission’s neighborhood, I’m sure we could encourage doctors who wanted continued use of their fingers to wash their hands very, very carefully.But that wouldn’t be a very collaborative process, would it?

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Desmotivacioneskosten vloer leggenmaryanne mcguckinOakleigh RyanMD as HELL Recent comment authors
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Thanks for helping out, superb info .

kosten vloer leggen

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maryanne mcguckin

I found it very interesting that JC once again failed to look at programs that have been making an impact on Hand Hygiene compliance, have been validated, published in peer review journals but instead believe they are the only ones that will find the majic answer to solve the compliance issue. Until the US adopts the culture of our European colleagues who mandate and require adherence to guidelines rather than “recommend” we will not make any impact other that the impact of being the big spenders and duplicating efforts. I encourage JC and IHI to visit http://www.hhreports.com and build on… Read more »

Oakleigh Ryan

Michael Thank you for such pointing out something so important while at the same time giving all of us a respite from the heavy dialogue. Humor goes along way in teaching. I think we could use more of it. While truly noble, the idea that with yet another organization we will now help hospitals improve overlooks the fact that true change has to be a product of commitment and accountability. In many ways we enable this performance. I see it on the frontline everyday with Leaders. It is not that these ideas are not in the hospitals. There is just… Read more »


The causes of the deadly breakdowns in healthcare ARE the Joint Commission and the government.


I am amazed at how this kind of balderdash is written, or worse, believed! Don’t you folks know that the Joint Commission is a corrupt, manipulative, corrupt and unpoliced front for big money interests. The sooner people look behind their flowery prose and get in touch with who they really are and what they are doing, nothing will change. The JC has broken the law which empowered them in 1965. The are the street thugs who essentially are in the protection racket. No accreditation, no hospitals. Their motives are financial and political. Though given the power to sanction hospitals and… Read more »

Vince Kuraitis

Agreed. While there is always room for improvement and learning…
…the fundamental problem is not that hospitals don’t know how to do systemic, collaborative process improvement (pardon my double negative)
— but that they don’t have the right economic incentives to make it happen.