According to Maureen Conners Potter, former Executive Director of the Joint Commission International, ISQua is a great resource. She says, “They look at standards; they look for comparable measures, infection control, and quality of surveyor staff. They look at whether the standard’s body has comparables and that the accreditation body is looking at quality and patient safety.”
Philip Hassen, President Elect of ISQua, joined us for an interview before he spoke about “The Big DEBATE of Accreditation – Which System is Right for you?” with Steve Green from Trent Accreditation Scheme and Stuart Rowley on behalf of the Australian Accreditation System. Hassen commented about his expectations of the congress. “We are going to learn a lot about the medical tourism industry. For me personally, it gives me a chance to see the industry from different standards.
I am really looking forward to gaining a coherent understanding of the system; how it works, the objectives, and why credentialing is an important aspect. ISQua’s role and that of credentialing organizations is so critical to the success of medical tourism as well. It must meet some standards and how this is understood is really important. For example, in Canada, to build a hospital from conception to operation, it is a 10 year process. On the other hand, in Taiwan, it takes two years. No certificate is needed. It is primarily a business model.”
ISQua, The International Society for Quality in Health Care, is a non-profit, independent organization with members in over 70 countries. ISQua works to provide services to guide health professionals, providers, researchers, agencies, policy makers and consumers, to achieve excellence in healthcare delivery to all people, and to continuously improve the quality and safety of care.
Hassen says, “Speaking from ISQua’s perspective, our objective is to provide people with a sense of confidence that the accrediting services being delivered has some level of standards qualitatively and quantitatively. Principally, we see ourselves addressing questions related to this central objective. Through strategies ISQua has, a framework is provided to fit these standards. We see ourselves ensuring that people know who these accrediting organizations are, how they might use them, and to benefit the folks they serve first and foremost.”
Currently, 15 organizations are accredited by ISQua. The Joint Commission International (JCI) is one of the entities that have undergone review by ISQua. “We look for accrediting organizations to meet minimum standards. We try to ensure each country as they go through the process that the organizations doing this work are using these standards. For example, the JCI is currently doing work in Saudi Arabia. If we look at which region has the most promise for medical tourism, Saudi Arabia is coming along; people are going to Saudi Arabia.”
In terms of maintenance of these standards around affordability and quality of care, most hospitals are affordable. International standards of quality are becoming more of an issue over time. “Some hospitals have taken the stance that, ‘They do not do it the way we do it,’” reports Hassen. The hospital believes that their standards are correct and has a hard time accepting a new international standard. Due to this, some people will not travel to these hospitals.
In looking at who benefits, who is directing the effort, and the driving force of these standards; ISQua is finding the development of education to be an important factor. “We will see huge surges with people shopping around more for medical care and medical tourism will be an evolving market for years to come.
It is a matter of whether we can sustain the market,” states Hassen. In addition, organizations have to validate a patients experience and outcome. As the interest in medical tourism grows, more people will be looking for unbiased references.
Hospitals are raising the bar in standards all over the world whether it is due to medical tourism or setting higher standards for themselves nationally. According to Hassen, “We are seeing a parallel. In India, hospitals may look at raising their standards from a medical tourism perspective, while in other regions; hospitals are developing their own individual standards. As the industry evolves, the standards will evolve with a higher demand for higher standards. This is just the beginning. From our perspective, it is a very positive movement, not just for quality, but for safety as well.”