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?