In the healthcare world, the mention of Joint Commission is not always a well-received topic of conversation. It can be met with opinions, frustration, and even fear. Like all things that hold us accountable and attempt to maintain consistency, they often take the role of the big bad wolf. But do we really have to be afraid, scared, and protect ourselves as if we were Little Red Riding Hood. Gosh, No!

So, let’s be very clear about the goal of Joint Commission. Whether you are a facility providing patient care or a healthcare staffing company placing clinicians, the mission of the Joint Commission is “through leading practices, unmatched knowledge and expertise, we help organizations across the continuum of care lead the way to zero harm.” The Joint Commission is “committed to advancing safety and quality, as well as transforming health care, by encouraging, empowering, and supporting health care organizations to embrace quality improvement.” –The Joint Commission

They assist facilities and agencies alike with setting standards for practice that help organizations establish consistency and reliability for the patients that they ultimately provide care for. In a hospital organization, much like healthcare staffing, certification is desired and comes with many benefits.

Unfortunately, when it’s announced at a facility that “Joint Commission is coming!”, many go into a full-blown panic. Maybe they have become relaxed in how they carry out their daily tasks while maintaining their work loads. Maybe they are intimidated because it’s their first time participating in a review. Could this also happen in the staffing world? Of course. In case you weren’t aware, there is still a national shortage of healthcare clinicians. The emergency needs come in and maybe the rules get relaxed to meet the demands of those staffing shortages. And many agencies are applying for first time certifications!

How does this relaxation of policy and procedures essentially chop off our own toes? We skip steps, we lose sight of the goal of certification (proper standards), we increase the risk of error, and we risk decreasing the value of care being provided to patients. Being prepared every single day, following policy and procedure every single day, not waiting for an audit or review, is how we combat that.

Let’s be honest, no one enjoys the “black and white” world of policies and procedures. Some companies refuse to appoint an “HR” department because of the stigmas that come with it! But in healthcare staffing, there is great risk in procrastinating or not following through with set policies and procedures. Following set guidelines will protect your business, your internal staff, your clinical staff in the field, your client facilities (making you a much more accountable partner), and ultimately the patients. It limits your liability and errors that can happen when staff, clinicians and clients are educated.

How can we, as healthcare staffing owners, rise above and hold ourselves accountable? Make a conscious decision every single day to participate in industry best practices, not just minimums. Have a set audit every quarter or more to make sure that your clinical staff are meeting the quality standards for your client facilities. With turnover and new employees coming and going, have strong workflow processes in place that are repeatable and trainable. Have audits and mock reviews to ensure that every employee, no matter the job, are all prepared. All must understand that it takes everyone of us to do the job and do the job well. Patient care is the passion in which we are all linked together, and patient care is the driving factor that we should all be seeking to consistently improve. The big bad wolf is the fear of not being prepared. Being prepared is the only way for Little Red Riding Hood to combat the Wolf and it is within your circle of control.

Krystal Riley, Joint Commission Specialist with CliniSight LLC