The Joint Commission offers disease-specific care certifications that are designed to evaluate clinical programs for almost any chronic disease or condition across the continuum of care. Certification tells the clinicians, patients and surrounding community that a specific care center has demonstrated a commitment to a higher standard of service in the area of a specific disease. Eligible facilities include hospitals, long-term care, ambulatory care, home care, rehabilitation centers and others. Facilities can apply for certification in a wide range diseases and conditions, such as pediatric asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, coronary rehabilitation and depression.
Launched in 2002, the Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care (DSC) certification program helps organizations establish a consistent approach to patient care, resulting in a decreased risk for error. Other benefits of certification include being able to maintain a consistently high level of quality of care, creating a cohesive clinical team and promoting a culture of excellence throughout the organization.
Advanced-level of certification is available from the Joint Commission in nine clinical or procedural areas. Applicants must meet the DSC requirements along with additional, clinically-specific requirements and expectations. The advanced certification programs are:
The process of certification varies but typically takes about one year. Organizations applying for DSC are evaluated during an on-site review conducted by a Joint Commission field reviewer, who ensures that evidence-based guidelines are incorporated into daily clinical practices. Reviewers will also determine:
Obtaining DSC is the first step in an ongoing quality improvement process for healthcare organizations. The DSC is awarded for a 2-year period and the organization is re-evaluated at the end of every 2 years.
Because nurses are on the frontlines of patient care and education, they are key players in the DSC certification and maintenance process. It’s important that they contribute to the development of evidence-based, standardized care practices in preparation for the certification review. Being such an integral part of the process and working toward a common goal also helps foster camaraderie and teamwork among the entire nursing team.
The certification process requires the involvement of all departments in the care of the patient. This helps organizations build a system that strives for excellence in every aspect of the patient’s care, from the pre-admission instructions to the patient’s post-discharge environment. The resulting interprofessional collaborative approach to patient care reinforces nursing practice and supports nurses’ ability to provide the kind of care that attracted them to nursing in the first place.
Do you work in a facility with DSC? Has your facility applied for DSC – or is it currently in the application process? What are the benefits and/or drawbacks to achieving disease-specific certification? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!