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Introduction TJC
Version 2010A1

Introduction and Background

The Joint Commission Quality Initiatives

In 1987, The Joint Commission announced its Agenda for Change, which outlined a series of major steps designed to modernize the accreditation process. A key component of the Agenda for Change was the eventual introduction of standardized core performance measures into the accreditation process. As the vision to integrate performance measurement into accreditation became more focused, the name ORYXģ was chosen for the entire initiative.

The ORYX initiative became operational in March of 1999, when performance measurement systems began transmitting data to The Joint Commission on behalf of accredited hospitals and long term care organizations. Since that time, home care and behavioral healthcare organizations have been included in the ORYX initiative.

The initial phase of the ORYX initiative provided healthcare organizations a great degree of flexibility, offering greater than 100 measurement systems capable of meeting an accredited organizationís internal measurement goals and the Joint Commissionís ORYX requirements. This flexibility, however, also presented certain challenges. The most significant challenge was the lack of standardization of measure specifications across systems.

Although many ORYX measures appeared to be similar, valid comparisons could only be made among healthcare organizations using the same measures that were designed and collected based on standard specifications. The availability of over 8,000 disparate ORYX measures also limited the size of some comparison groups and hindered statistically valid data analyses. To address these challenges, standardized sets of valid, reliable, and evidence-based quality measures have been implemented by The Joint Commission for use within the ORYX initiative.

Related Joint Commission Activities

Accreditation Process

In January 2000, The Joint Commission surveyors began using organization-specific ORYX Pre-Survey Reports, effectively commencing the use of performance measure data in the survey process.

In 2004, the survey process was substantially modified to be more data-driven and patient-centered thus enhancing its value, relevance, and credibility. Many of the key components of the survey process utilize data derived from the national hospital inpatient quality measures. The survey process now has a greater focus on evaluating actual care processes because patients are traced through the care, treatment and/or services they receive. In addition, surveyors conduct ďsystems tracersĒ to analyze key operational systems that directly impact the quality and safety of patient care.

Analysis and Data Use by The Joint Commission

The Joint Commission has been evolving and refining the ways in which data derived from standardized performance measures are analyzed and utilized in the accreditation process and for reporting. The Joint Commission continuously seeks to improve the quality and safety of care provided to the public. Over time, as the survey and accreditation process is enhanced performance measures may be directly factored into the accreditation decision.


At the start of public reporting of performance data by The Joint Commission, the national average was used as the comparison value through which it was determined whether the reporting organization was statistically significantly different from the comparison value. Organizations have had experience with the aligned CMS/Joint Commission performance measures for a number of years and the performance on these measures has been improving over time. However, using the national average as a benchmark has a number of disadvantages. It is not the most effective benchmark to use if the goal is to move performance to a given (absolute) level. If performance is very high or very low, statistical differences from the national average would give a misleading impression of the organizationís desired performance. For these reasons, The Joint Commission is moving to a target measure range approach (target analysis) as a basis to evaluate Joint Commission accredited organizationsí rating for the aligned performance measures.

The use of target analysis in addition to the control chart is a key feature of the Joint Commissionís analytic methods in the ORYX initiative. The two analyses are alike in that an organizationís actual (or observed) performance level is evaluated against a comparative norm, but are fundamentally different as to how such a norm is established. In control chart analysis, the norm is determined from an organizationís own historic data so that one may assess the organizationís internal process stability. In target analysis, the norm is obtained based on multiple organizationsí performance data to evaluate an organizationís relative performance level. Therefore, the two analyses evaluate an organizationís performance in two distinct perspectives and, as a result, can provide a more comprehensive framework to assess an organizationís overall performance level.

In evaluating a process, a control chart analysis is completed before the target analysis to determine the stability of the process before forming any conclusions on the organizationsí observed performance and performance capability. Unless a process is in statistical control, target analysis cannot come to any meaningful conclusions about the quality of care at an organization.

Priority Focus Process

The Priority Focus Process (PFP) is a data-driven tool that helps focus survey activity on issues most relevant to patient safety and quality of care at the specific health care organization being surveyed. The survey is directed by a PFP that aggregates organization-specific information through an automated, rules-based tool. Input information includes ORYX measure data, previous recommendations, demographic data related to clinical service groups and diagnostic-related groups, complaints, sentinel event information, and MedPar data. The process identifies systems and processes that are relevant to patient safety and healthcare quality.

ORYX Performance Measurement Report

The ORYX Performance Measure Report assists health care organizations in using their ORYX data for ongoing performance improvement activities. Joint Commission surveyors receive an identical copy of the report prior to an onsite survey. Surveyors use the report as a guide to understanding how the organization uses and responds to performance measure data. The report, available quarterly, summarizes performance measure information at both the measure set and individual measure level. This includes highlighting measures with standards compliance issues and performance issues.

Strategic Surveillance System(S3ô)

The Strategic Surveillance System is a benefit provided to hospitals accredited by the Joint Commission. S3ô is a tool that provides a series of risk assessment and comparative performance measure reports to help hospitals improve their care processes. Specifically S3ô uses data the Joint Commission currently has, which includes past survey findings, ORYX core measure data, data from the Office of Quality Monitoring (complaints and non-self reported sentinel events), data from an organizationís electronic application and MedPAR data.

Quality Checkô

In July 2004, The Joint Commission launched a new generation of reporting healthcare information about the quality and safety of care provided in its accredited healthcare organizations across the country.

The Joint Commission's Quality Checkô provides clear, objective data to individuals for the purpose of comparing the performance of local hospitals, home care agencies, nursing homes, laboratories, and ambulatory care organizations with others on state and national levels. Additionally, The Joint Commission provides hospital-specific information about clinical performance in the care of patients respecting: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, pneumonia, pregnancy and related conditions (retired effective with April 01, 2010 discharges and replaced by perinatal care), surgical care, and childrenís asthma care. In addition, Quality Checkô also includes HCAHPs data and the CMS 30-day mortality measures.

Individuals are also able to determine how healthcare organizations compare with others in meeting national requirements that help them prevent devastating medical accidents. The requirements specifically seek to avoid misidentification of patients, surgery on the wrong body part, miscommunication among caregivers, unsafe use of infusion pumps, medication mix-ups, problems with equipment alarm systems, and infections acquired in the healthcare setting.

Consumers can access Quality Checkô at http://www.qualitycheck.org and search for healthcare organizations by name, type, and/or location. Interactive links to information are designed to help individuals better understand how to use and interpret the information presented.

Related National Activities

National Quality Forum

The NQF has approved a set of national voluntary consensus standards for measuring the quality of hospital care. These measures will permit consumers, providers, purchasers, and quality improvement professionals to evaluate and compare the quality of care in general acute care hospitals across the nation using a standard set of measures. The majority of the Joint Commissionís measures are endorsed by NQF and are denoted on the measure information forms.

The Hospital Quality Alliance

The AHA, FAH, and AAMC have launched a national voluntary initiative to collect and report hospital quality performance information. This effort is intended to make critical information about hospital performance accessible to the public and to inform and invigorate efforts to improve quality. The Joint Commission, NQF, CMS, AHRQ and others support this initiative to identify a robust set of standardized and easy-to-understand hospital quality measures that would be used by all stakeholders in the healthcare system in order to improve quality of care and the ability of consumers to make informed healthcare choices. Currently over 30 measures are reported on Hospital Compare including the ten ďstarter setĒ measures, and additional measures on which hospitals also voluntarily report. The measures reflect recommended treatments for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care, asthma care for children, and the patientís perspective of hospital care.

National Quality Measures Clearinghouse

The National Quality Measures Clearinghouse (NQMCô), sponsored by AHRQ, U.S. Department of HHS, has included Joint Commission measures in its public database for evidence-based quality measures and measure sets. NQMC is sponsored by AHRQ to promote widespread access to quality measures by the healthcare community and other interested individuals.

Related Topics

Related Topics
a1. Acknowledgment and Conditions of Use
a1. Introduction to the Manual
a. Table of Contents
a3. Using the The Joint Commission's National Measure Specifications Manual

Introduction TJC
Specifications Manual for Joint Commission National Quality Core Measures (2010A1)
Discharges 04-01-10 (2Q10) through 09-30-10 (3Q10)