Ms. Jean E. Courtney

Joint Commission International's (JCI) Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

The Joint Commission International is the recognized leader in international healthcare accreditation, providing leadership and innovative solutions to help healthcare organizations across all settings improve performance and outcomes. “Hospitals” magazine had the privilege to interview Jean Courtney, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer – Joint Commission International (JCI), to talk about JCI strategy, the global healthcare trends and how COVID-19 affected the JCI and other organizations. Below is the full interview:

Joint Commission International (JCI) has been in existence for nearly 25 years and is recognized as the international accreditation leader.  How has the JCI strategy evolved over the years and what does the future hold for JCI?

Joint Commission International has been in existence for nearly 25 years and our parent company, The Joint Commission has been operating over 75 years. We have evolved by being market-driven, staying relevant and constantly innovating. We are now a global enterprise with an unparalleled reach and serve more than 70 countries spanning Asia, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. As patient care is shifting from hospital-centric to various care settings such as ambulatory clinics, home care, nursing care centers, etc., we have developed accreditation programs to advance our mission by serving programs across the entire continuum of care. We recently introduced a certification program for telehealth services since telehealth utilization across the globe surged at staggering rates during the pandemic and remains a key modality of care.

In terms of our future, our mission remains steadfast — helping healthcare providers improve the safety and quality of care in the international community. We are focused on innovating ways in which we can collaborate with healthcare providers of any size and type, as well as Ministries of Health and Public Health Agencies. What we have learned from serving international healthcare organizations for nearly 25 years is that though we have successfully delivered accreditation, certification, consulting, and education programs all over the world, there remains an opportunity to expand our services. We want to continue to collaborate with a diverse set of organizations ranging from those that are just beginning their quality and safety journey to organizations advancing towards high reliability and zero patient harm. In the same respect, we need to enhance our relevancy by providing more continuing interaction and support to our accredited organizations. We are evolving our current accreditation engagement model from being episodic to a continuous engagement model.  

How important is the Middle East region for Joint Commission International?

We are a global organization with one fundamental objective which is to help organizations around the world achieve zero patient harm. The Middle East is a significant area of focus for us given the rapid pace of healthcare developments taking place here. JCI has been serving the Middle East for more than two decades. In 2006, JCI opened its regional headquarters office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We have more than 400 healthcare delivery organizations in this region that are accredited by JCI. In March 2023, we opened our newest office, Joint Commission Arabia, located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The opening of this office further expands JCI’s presence and demonstrates our commitment to serving the Middle East region.

What are the major global trends that you see in the healthcare industry today and how do these trends impact Joint Commission International?

One of the major trends is technology and its impact on driving the patient experience. Most notably digital transformation is taking place at an accelerated pace. Besides the rapid adoption of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), telehealth and remote monitoring, JCI too, is increasingly leveraging digital technology to share best practices in quality and safety around the world. 

For example, we are deploying the JCI Digital Learning Center to enable on-demand access to educational resources such as manuals, webinars, best practices, and tools to help standardize processes and enable continuous learning, improve quality, and mitigate patient safety risks.

Data science plus the associated technologies of artificial intelligence and natural language processing are changing medicine along with many other industries. As an enterprise, we are investing in digital platforms and applications that will have profound implications for quality and patient safety. By collecting, contrasting, and sharing key performance indicators (KPIs) from organizations across the world, Joint Commission Enterprise will provide meaningful benchmarking and actionable insights to drive global healthcare improvements. Overtime, the creation of global data sets combined with predictive analytics will shift the patient safety paradigm from a reactive to a proactive approach – we will be able to prevent patient safety events from occurring.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone and every organization. How did the pandemic impact JCI quality and patient safety initiatives specifically?

The pandemic has had a profound impact on healthcare. JCI made it a priority to provide advice, resources, and support to our clients during this critical time. JCI rapidly resumed operations by adapting video conferencing technologies to deliver education programs, consulting, and accreditation surveys. This pivot was critical to ensure that we could monitor the  organization’s compliance with standards and processes while keeping our staff, customers, and patients safe. 

In your opinion, did international accredited organizations have an advantage in managing the COVID-19 pandemic?

When organizations commit to JCI accreditation, they undergo a rigorous process to establish policies and procedures to comply with our standards. As a result, they are accustomed to a systematic thought process to engage leadership and adapt to change. Clearly, all organizations had to undergo significant changes to manage the pandemic. Our accredited organizations have told us that they felt better prepared and were able to more quickly pivot because of their accreditation experience. They had the tools needed to make necessary changes, monitor processes, and communicate more effectively.

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