In the business of medical travel, quality drives the market and the quality of healthcare a hospital or healthcare organization provides is often validated by its accreditation status.
Since the industry began expanding, more and more patients have had to leave their home countries for other countries to seek healthcare treatment and sometimes, the dilemma these patients face in making decisions on their preferred medical travel destination is the safety and quality of treatment provided in these destinations.
Accreditation serves as a stamp of quality for many healthcare organizations across the world and plays an important role in guiding patient choice and boosting the reputation of the providing facility.
“To be sure, when friends and colleagues ask me for advice on foreign hospitals I always ask if they have received JCI or another well-regarded accreditation, and this information is useful.” Says I. Glenn Cohen, professor of Law at Harvard University.
The major international accreditors providing quality stamps to various hospitals and healthcare facilities in Europe include Joint Commission International (JCI), Accreditation Canada, and Quality Healthcare Advice (QHA) Trent. All of these accreditations aim at ensuring the high-quality and safety of treatments including medical and surgical procedures offered by a healthcare facility.
Promoting better quality healthcare services
One way accreditation and external quality assessments help boost healthcare is to drive health professionals and administrative staff to increase their efforts in updating and advancing the services provided.
In December 2017, the American Hospital of Paris, one of Europe’s leading centers for tertiary healthcare, received accreditation from the JCI following an assessment survey. This accreditation process has led the management and health professionals to strive for excellence in providing healthcare.
The procedure for accreditation by the JCI involves an unannounced visit and evaluation by three surveyors. These professionals inspect all departments in the hospital and evaluate them based on over 1,800 criteria including patient pathway safety, medication management, building safety, and infection control.
In the United Kingdom, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England, provides quality assessments and accreditation for both private and NHS healthcare facilities. In addition, this group also reviews the services of GPs and dentists to provide ratings on the quality of care they provide.
The CQC rates healthcare services provided by NHS Trusts and services in any of four categories – “Outstanding”, “Good”, “Requires Improvement”, and “Inadequate”.
In a report published by the CQC on March 1st, it revealed that significant improvements were recorded across every hospital and healthcare facility run by The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust following its unannounced inspection carried out late 2017.
The Pennine Acute Trust (PAT) runs four hospitals and community service centers in Oldham, North Manchester, Bury, and Rochdale borough and it noted that the need to improve on their quality assessment results and provide better healthcare services were the main drivers for their recent assessment results by the CQC.
Quality in Medical Travel
After the 2011 European Union directive granting patients unrestricted access to cross-border healthcare, member states have been required to provide clear and useful information, in a way of accreditation, about the quality and safety of healthcare they provide to guide medical travelers within the EU.
In 2016, the Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) Program was launched to meet the needs of medical travelers. GHA is an independent accrediting body focused on improving the patient experience and excellence of care received by patients who travel for their medical care and treatment. The GHA program complements existing national and international clinical accreditation programs; while these programs traditionally focus on the clinical aspects of care for the entire organization, GHA conducts a deep review of the International or Global Patient Services program.
In 2017, GHA awarded accreditation to St. Catherine’s Specialty Hospital, Croatia as well as three other institutions – Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand, Cleveland Clinic Ohio, USA, and Clinica Santa Clarita SC in Mexico.
“Our hospital has an international reputation for providing excellent patient care and meeting high clinical and educational standards. We are a renowned teaching hospital and research center in Croatia and regionally, always striving to be on the cutting-edge of new medical technologies that will benefit our patients.” Said Jadranka Primorac, COO of St Catherine Specialty Hospital in Croatia.
GHA evaluates the quality of healthcare services of a hospital in three areas: Patient-focused clinical strategies, patient experience, and sustainable business processes. Each organization that achieved accreditation had to complete a comprehensive review of policies, procedures and services related to the medical travel care continuum and prepare to improve any areas that were not currently in compliance with GHA standards. “Even so, the GHA process taught us new strategies to improve the patient experience for medical travelers and refine our operational procedures. We are extremely proud to have achieved Global Healthcare Accreditation as it validates our commitment to improving patient care and safety for traveling patients.” Primorac noted further.
Accreditation by these healthcare assessment and evaluation organizations has not only improved patient care in these European hospitals, it has boosted their marketability in the health travel industry on one hand, by increasing attractiveness to international travelers, and on another, by paving the way for strong international partnerships with leading healthcare institutions across the world.
To learn more about accreditation or to see CEO Karen Timmons speak in person, Click here.