Mission: To continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.
Vision: All people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings.
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. To earn and maintain The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval®, an organization undergoes an on-site survey by a Joint Commission survey team at least every three years. (Laboratories are surveyed every two years.)
The Joint Commission is governed by a 32-member Board of Commissioners that includes physicians, administrators, nurses, employers, quality experts, a consumer advocate and educators. The Joint Commission employs approximately 1,000 people in its surveyor force, at its central office in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, and at an office in Washington, D.C.
Standards development process
Joint Commission standards are developed with input from health care professionals, providers, subject matter experts, consumers, government agencies (including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and employers. They are informed by scientific literature and expert consensus and reviewed by the Board of Commissioners. New standards are added only if they relate to patient safety or quality of care, have a positive impact on health outcomes, meet or surpass law and regulation, and can be accurately and readily measured. The standards development process includes the following steps:
- Emerging quality and safety issues suggesting the need for additional or modified requirements are identified through the scientific literature or discussions with The Joint Commission’s standing committees and advisory groups, accredited organizations, professional associations, consumer groups or others.
- The Joint Commission prepares draft standards using input from technical advisory panels, focus groups, experts and other stakeholders.
- Draft accreditation standards are reviewed by field-specific Professional and Technical Advisory Committees (PTACs), which are composed of outside experts. Both accreditation and certification standards are reviewed by the Standards & Survey Procedures (SSP) Committee, a committee of the Board of Commissioners.
- The draft standards are distributed nationally for review and made available for comment on the Standards Field Review page of The Joint Commission website.
- If indicated, the draft standards are revised and again reviewed by the appropriate experts and/or PTACs.
- The draft standards are approved by the SSP Committee and provided to the Board for a comment period. Once that period of time has passed, the standards are final, unless the Board seeks further discussion.
- The survey process is enhanced, as needed, to address the new standards requirements, and surveyors are educated about how to assess compliance with the new standards.
- The approved standards are published for use by the field.
- Once a standard is in effect, ongoing feedback is sought for the purpose of continuous improvement.