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Specialized Accreditation Needs of Urgent Care Organizations


By Pearl Darling , MBA, Executive Director, Ambulatory Care Accreditation Program

As an accrediting organization specializing in urgent care accreditation, we have been working to better understand the needs of urgent care executives and the aspects of accreditation that are most important to their businesses. After a lot of conversation, I thought it would be beneficial to share some insights from the urgent care field.

Differentiation Strategies
At most urgent care centers, accreditation helps organizations:

  • improve processes
  • enhance standardization
  • strengthen relationships with payors and network partners    

Payor Negotiation
Payor negotiation strikes a chord with small- and medium-sized urgent care practices because they are often faced with pricing pressure from major payors in their markets and have very little negotiating leverage. Some  urgent care executives have floated the idea that creating a consortium of smaller accredited centers would help with negotiating payor contracts. 

The Joint Commission has obtained several recognitions across our accreditation and certification programs and continues to engage with the payor community. Currently, The Joint Commission has arrangements with:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
  • Highmark West Virginia
  • Emblem Health
  • Excellus 
  • Blue Cross Northeastern Pennsylvania
  • Highmark Delaware

Joint Commission Urgent Care Accreditation Customer Experience
For the last 45 years, The Joint Commission Ambulatory Accreditation Program has worked with urgent care centers that want to meet the highest standards of care. 

In the ambulatory care accreditation manual, chapters   relevant to urgent care areas of focus include:  

  • Medication Management – the stages of medication use including selection, storage and administration
  • Leadership – reviewing the structure and relationships of an organization’s leadership and how to maintain a culture of safety, quality and operational performance
  • Infection Prevention and Control – helps organizations identify and reduce the risk of acquiring and transmitting infections  

Standards are designed to be comprehensive and non-prescriptive so that facilities have the flexibility to tailor them to their businesses. Joint Commission staff can help urgent care facilities understand these standards and how to apply them.     

E-dition, or the electronic platform version of Joint Commission standards, is available for free and offers greater details on standards relevant to urgent care centers.

Data Powered Tools
For urgent care facilities looking to track metrics that reveal macro trends and patterns in current and historical Joint Commission survey data for an individual or number of facilities, organizations can utilize Data Analytics for Safe Healthcare™ (DASH™). This collection of proprietary business intelligence tools was developed to empower accredited organizations to make more informed decisions.

At a glance, users are able to view the findings from accreditation survey reports in a dashboard for an individual facility or a summation of facilities that are part of an urgent care corporate/system. 

Also, Joint Commission accredited urgent care centers can access the Survey Analysis for Evaluating Risk® (SAFER™) matrix analysis, which visually organizes requirements for improvement (RFI) identified during the on-site survey by scope of risk and potential of patient harm. With this dashboard, aggregate survey findings are organized at the corporate, organization and program levels, using the same data. found in the final accreditation report. 

Survey statistics presented graphically include:

  • number of surveys
  • total number of RFIs 
  • average number of RFIs 

The Joint Commission’s 50-person cadre of ambulatory surveyors is happy to discuss how urgent care centers can utilize accreditation to improve their organizations. These professionals include doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and administrators with previous urgent care experience  . Others are ambulatory care clinicians who survey 30-120 organizations annually, observe leading practices and are passionate about the urgent care accreditation experience.

 Our website has several resources that are easily accessible. If your organization is interested in urgent care accreditation, please feel free to email us at .

Pearl Darling is the Executive Director for the Ambulatory Care Accreditation Program at The Joint Commission (TJC). In this role, she directs business development, strategic direction and overall product line management for Ambulatory Care Services. This program now covers over 2,200 accredited ambulatory organizations across 8,900 sites of care nationwide. She also serves as a board member on the ASC Quality Collaboration (ASC QC).