Facts about Disease-Specific Care Certification | Joint Commission
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Facts about Disease-Specific Care Certification

July 25, 2014

The Joint Commission’s Disease-Specific Care (DSC) certification program, launched in 2002, is designed to evaluate clinical programs across the continuum of care. Joint Commission accredited health care organizations may seek certification for care and services provided for virtually any chronic disease or condition. 

In addition, disease-specific services provided by nonaccredited organizations can be eligible for certification if Joint Commission accreditation is not available for that specific clinical setting. Examples of eligible nonaccredited organizations include disease management companies and health plans with disease management services.

Advanced certification

The Joint Commission offers an advanced-level of certification in nine clinical or procedural areas. These programs must meet the requirements for DSC Certification plus additional, clinically-specific requirements and expectations. The advanced certification programs are:

  • Chronic kidney disease

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • Comprehensive stroke center

  • Heart failure

  • Inpatient diabetes

  • Lung volume reduction

  • Palliative care

  • Primary stroke center

  • Ventricular assistance device

On-site review

To become certified, an organization is evaluated during an on-site review conducted by a Joint Commission DSC field reviewer, who assess:

  • How clinical outcomes and other performance measures are used to identify opportunities to improve care

  • Whether the organization’s leaders are commitment to improvements

  • How patients are educated with respect to self-management and guidelines that are pertinent to them 

Reviewers will also validate that evidence-based guidelines are incorporated into daily clinical practices. The on-site review will include the use of the tracer methodology. The tracer methodology is a way to analyze a program’s system of providing care, treatment and services using patients as the framework for assessing standards compliance.

Ongoing certification requirements

Disease-specific programs that successfully demonstrate compliance with The Joint Commission’s requirements during the on-site review are awarded certification for a two-year period. At the end of the first year, the organization is required to participate in a conference call to attest to its continued compliance with the standards and to review performance improvement activities. Certified programs are required to regularly submit data to The Joint Commission, and standardized performance measures are currently available for two certification programs – primary stroke centers and advanced certification in heart failure. All other certified programs may use existing relevant performance measures or self-specify measures based on their goals for improvement.

Read more about DCS Certification

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