to main content Snapshot of Survey Day for Behavioral Health Accreditation | The Joint Commission

What to Expect on Survey Day

During the on-site survey, we assess your compliance with Joint Commission standards. Survey length depends on the information you supply on your application and the agenda includes key activities like:

  • A survey-planning session.
  • An opening conference and orientation to the organization between our surveyor(s) and your team.
  • A dedicated leadership session.
  • A competence assessment process.
  • An Environment of Care® session, including a building tour.
  • An exit conference for the survey team to present a written summary of their findings.

A unique aspect of our on-site survey process that delivers unmatched value for our customers is the tracer methodology. We assess your compliance with our standards by observing the care and treatment you provide to the population you serve, in other words tracing their actual experience. We have two types of tracer activities:

  • Individual tracers follow the care experience.
  • System tracers evaluate how you integrate related processes and coordinate communication among programs/services. This process includes deep discussion and education on the use of data in performance improvement and other topics important to your organization.

Get Your Survey Activity Guide

The Survey Activity Guide is dedicated to preparing you for the on-site visit. This resource includes:

  • Survey Activity Details: A thorough, individualized description of the on-site review events
  • Sample Survey Agenda: A helpful, hour-by-hour outline of the survey, showing you what to expect, who to have available, and what you’ll need throughout the on-site visit.
  • Required Written Documentation: A list of documents and information you’ll need for the surveyor planning sessions on day one of your survey.   

About Your Surveyors

Joint Commission behavioral health care field surveyors are behavioral health care professionals, employed by us, who understand the day-to-day issues that confront your organization and have the hands-on expertise to help you resolve them. The behavioral health care surveyor cadre is composed of psychologists, social workers, behavioral health care nurses, and administrators with experience in the field they are surveying. We feel surveying is an art, and each of our surveyors conducts an average of 16 site visits per year. By keeping our surveyor team small and actively surveying, their extensive experience allows them to collect and share good practices across Joint Commission organizations, helping you stay up to date with current practices.

The Joint Commission ensures surveyor consistency by providing several weeks of initial training and supervision followed by yearly continuing education. A rigorous training process and certification examination must be successfully completed before becoming a Joint Commission behavioral health surveyor. This ongoing training and evaluation, coupled with our proprietary survey tools, helps ensure that your on-site survey is an educational experience.