John Jay said, “To prepare for the best, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.”
Trite as it may seem, it’s good advice when it comes to dealing with The Joint Commission.
In healthcare, we work every day to instill quality into what we do. Although sometimes stressful, one way we can protect that quality is through a checks and balances system via audits ever so often. Think about it this way: The Joint Commission is there to keep you on your toes, to make sure you are at your best; and anytime you’re audited, it helps to further ingrain the highest quality into all you do.
So when does preparation for a survey actually start? A good rule of thumb is to plan for the next audit the minute you see them drive off into the distance – because that’s when it really begins. They could be back any time.
#1: Your knight in shining armor
It’s best if you have someone who has time devoted to making certain you’re ready – this person looks at all the key players, reaches out to everyone in the organization to keep people ready, and talks with new hires. There will always be someone at your facility who has never been through an audit before so you want to make sure there aren’t any chinks in your armor.
#2: Let’s play telephone
Let’s face it, your survey is likely to be unannounced. Even if it seems like it’s coming from a remote source, if you hear a rumor that The Joint Commission auditors happen to be in the neighborhood, there’s a chance they’re going to be stopping by to check in on you too. Be ready!
#3: Practice makes perfect better
Remember in school when you had a fire drill? The alarm was annoying and sometimes you had to go out in the cold, but it had a purpose. It wasn’t there to ensure that everything would go perfectly in case of an actual fire. It was there to make everyone feel more prepared. Conducting a mock survey ahead of your audit can have the same affect. Hire someone and take advantage of the time you do have to look at a system (hint: where were your weak points in the last survey? That’s a great place to start).
#4: Churn that milk into butter
Drowning in paperwork and checklists? Good! It’s important to remember that there is an extremely long list of items that are needed for a successful audit, so if you aren’t feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount, there are probably more documents you can pull together. The Joint Commission wants to see everything from your hospital license and your CLIA certificates to your infection control plan or your autopsy policy. If you have multiple sites, there are going to be even more documents that need to be tracked down, like eligible sites where deep sedation is used. Same thing with all contracted services. It is lengthy but having as much on hand before their drop-in will make the day of go so much more smoothly. So get kicking and before you know it, you’ll be climbing on top of a document pile thick as butter, and ready for anything the audit throws at you!
Why is all of this important? When the unannounced surveyors show up, the game is on and you won’t have unlimited time to get organized and make your staff feel prepared. You can do these preparations in-house or by bringing it to a group like symplr to get you ready and stay ahead of audit questions. On the big day it’s going to be stressful no matter what, but planning ahead will alleviate some worries and make sure your staff is calm and collected and ready to shine!