Summary: The Joint Commission announces a new Telehealth Accreditation Program starting July 1, 2024, for hospitals and healthcare organizations. This program introduces updated standards aimed at enhancing the quality and safety of telehealth services.

Key Takeaways:

  • The program replaces existing telehealth accreditations.
  • Eligibility extends to organizations providing telehealth services.
  • It includes specific requirements for remote care and telehealth technology.

The Joint Commission is launching a new Telehealth Accreditation Program for eligible hospitals and ambulatory and behavioral healthcare organizations, effective July 1, 2024.

This accreditation program provides updated, streamlined standards to provide organizations offering telehealth services with the structures and processes necessary to help deliver safe, high-quality care using a telehealth platform.

Replacing Existing Accreditation Programs

The new program will replace the current telehealth and technology-based accreditation products in The Joint Commission’s Ambulatory Health Care and Behavioral Health Care and Human Services Accreditation Programs for organizations that meet the eligibility criteria.

Eligibility and Application Process

The Telehealth Accreditation Program was developed for healthcare organizations that exclusively provide care, treatment and services via telehealth. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations that have written agreements in place to provide care, treatment and services via telehealth to another organization’s patients have the option to apply for the new accreditation.

Specific Requirements and Standards

The Telehealth Accreditation Program’s requirements contain many of the standards similar to other Joint Commission accreditation programs, such as requirements for information management, leadership, medication management, patient identification, documentation, and credentialing and privileging. Requirements specific to the new accreditation program include:

  • Streamlined emergency management requirements to address providing care and clinical support remotely rather than in a physical building.
  • New standards for telehealth provider education and patient education about the use of telehealth platforms and devices.
  • New standards chapter focused on telehealth equipment, devices and connectivity.

Additionally, the program’s standards may be filtered based on the telehealth modality or service provided.

“The use of telehealth in the United States increased 154% during early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and stabilized at levels 38 times higher than levels in 2019. As telehealth continues to evolve, it was imperative to create a new accreditation program to provide a framework to support the integrity of patient safety regardless of the care setting,” says Jonathan B. Perlin, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer, The Joint Commission enterprise. “Our new Telehealth Accreditation Program helps organizations standardize care and reduce risk so that all patients, including those obtaining services remotely, receive the safest, highest-quality care with outcomes consistent with traditional settings.”