Accreditation agencies take on telehealth with new virtual care standards

By Katie Palmer 

In the early days of the pandemic, as social distancing forced patients out of doctors’ offices, health care organizations scrambled to offer care online. In turn, health care accreditation organizations rushed to tweak their standards, filling a void in best practices for virtual visits.

But as telehealth has matured, accreditation bodies — typically nonprofits that offer a seal of approval to organizations that pass their audits — are trying to address the nuance of digital care head-on. Today, the Joint Commission announced a new telehealth accreditation that will launch on July 1. Later that month, the National Committee for Quality Assurance plans to release its own virtual care standards, with applications for a new accreditation opening in November.

“We want to elevate best practices to the top, call out quality when we see it, and help other organizations to create really lasting and quality systems for the delivery of virtual care,” said Claire Mendelson, a product manager at NCQA who has worked to develop its virtual care program.”

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