Ambulatory Buzz

Information on all things ambulatory from The Joint Commission

Ambulatory Care Program Recovery Plans - Post COVID-19

06/24/2020

By Kelley McCann, associate director, Accreditation & Certification Operations

The Joint Commission was pleased to resume our regular on-site surveys and survey process in June. 

We’re committed to working closely with our ambulatory care customers, with safety being the first and foremost priority. As we resume surveys, your account executive will contact your organization to assess the impact the coronavirus may have had on your operations and your current state. 

Criteria for On-Site Surveys
The Joint Commission will review a variety of factors and criteria to determine where and which ambulatory care organization will be surveyed, including identifying and then prioritizing low-risk geographic areas we can safely survey. The on-site visit will look somewhat different, too, as we employ physical distancing practices to ensure the safety of all concerned. These will include: 

  • Limiting the numbers of individuals in group sessions. The use of audio or video conference calls can be incorporated by the organization to safely expand the number of attendees.
  • Minimizing the number of people who accompany the surveyor on tracer activities.
  • Using masks as a routine practice; we will expect organizations to provide masks and/or other personal protective equipment (PPE) to surveyors while on-site. 
  • Maximizing the use of technology to eliminate the need for multiple people to sit directly next to an individual for an extended time, for example, conducting electronic medical record reviews using screen-sharing or displaying/projecting the record. Other examples include simulating an activity if the surveyor is unable to enter a high-risk space, and interviewing patients or staff by phone.
  • Driving in separate cars to off-site satellite locations 

Understanding the Impact of COVID-19
As always, our survey will focus on a thorough assessment of your ambulatory care organization. You should know the implementation of your emergency operations plan will not be the focus of return survey activity as regards the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waivers and other extensions. Rather, we will work to understand how you adapted to the coronavirus pandemic and review your current practices to assure you’re providing safe care and working in a safe environment. 

Additionally, the implementation of your emergency operations plan will not be the focus of return survey activity as regards the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waivers and other extensions. Rather, we will work to understand how you adapted to the coronavirus pandemic and review your current practices to assure you’re providing safe care and working in a safe environment. 

COVID-19 Resources Available 
To that end, The Joint Commission has been compiling practical resources to provide your staff the most pertinent information to best meet their needs as they continue to battle the COVID-19 virus. The resources are available on The Joint Commission’s official COVID-19 resources site.

Questions regarding the resumption of regular surveys should be directed to your designated ambulatory care account executive.

Kelley McCann currently serves as an Associate Director in the Division of Accreditation Certification Operations at The Joint Commission.  She manages a team of Account Executives who serve as the primary contact between accredited organizations and The Joint Commission.