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The Joint Commission announces Responsible Use of Health Data Certification for U.S. hospitals

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Maureen Lyons
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(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, December 5, 2023) – The Joint Commission today announced a voluntary Responsible Use of Health Data™ (RUHD™) Certification program for U.S. hospitals, effective Jan. 1, 2024. Protecting patient privacy is a foundational element of a strong data use policy. The new certification will provide guidance and recognize healthcare organizations navigating the appropriate sensitivities needed to safely use data for purposes beyond clinical care, known as secondary use of data.

Secondary use of data includes quality and operations improvement, discovery, or algorithm and artificial intelligence development. The certification will provide an objective evaluation as to whether an organization is committed to utilizing best practices in its secondary use of data and promoting responsible use of data by demonstrating established protocols regarding transparency, limitations of use and patient engagement.

Nearly 85% of U.S. hospitals have the capability to export their patient data for reporting and analysis purposes, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. However, there is no standard approach to use de-identified data nor to validate best use practices. Organizations working toward standardization may help address the unmonitored handling of secondary health data.

“As more healthcare organizations are leveraging clinical data for secondary purposes, there have been increased calls to assure responsible data stewardship,” says Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, MSHA, MACP, FACMI, president and chief executive officer, The Joint Commission Enterprise. “The Joint Commission recognizes it can play an important role in validating that robust policies and procedures are in place to help protect, govern and accountably use secondary data. We believe our Responsible Use of Health Data Certification will help healthcare organizations use data responsibly to improve the safety, quality and equity of care, develop new technologies, and discover new therapies benefitting all patients.”

RUHD Certification is based on principles adopted from the Health Evolution Forum’s “The Trust Framework for Accelerating Responsible Use of De-identified Data in Algorithm and Product Development.” The certification’s requirements cover these areas:

  • De-identification process
  • Data controls
  • Limitations on use
  • Algorithm validation
  • Patient transparency
  • Oversight structure

“On behalf of the industry leaders in the Health Evolution community, we are honored to inspire and serve as a catalyst for this important work. The principles established within the Trust Framework are more pertinent than ever for organizations engaging in cross-sector collaboration to propel a new generation of data-powered solutions as artificial intelligence forges a new frontier of innovation and discovery in healthcare,” says Richard Schwartz, CEO, Health Evolution. “The Health Evolution Forum developed the Trust Framework with the intention that its enduring principles will serve as the groundwork for industry-leading organizations and coalitions to build upon this effort and chart the path forward in an ever-evolving technology, regulatory and business environment. It is with deep appreciation that we recognize the significant work by the healthcare leaders in the Health Evolution community who contributed their time and expertise to develop the Trust Framework.”

RUHD Certification will validate to patients and other stakeholders that an organization has policies and procedures in place to protect health record data. Hospitals achieving RUHD Certification will be recognized publicly for establishing an objective and rigorous process for meeting the necessary requirements.

Hospitals may immediately begin working toward RUHD Certification and apply as soon as Jan. 1, 2024. To learn more, please visit The Joint Commission website.


About The Joint Commission

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at