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ISQua ~ Globally Improving Health Care


The International Society for Quality in Health Care is a non-profit, independent organization, with members and participants from over 70 countries. The Society is governed by an Executive Board, which is elected every two years – current board members are from North American, European and Asia/Pacific regions.

ISQua’s unique goal is to link together health care leaders, decision-makers, researchers, professionals, policy makers and administrators to be part of a worldwide reference group of excellence in quality and safety.


In 1985, a group of health professionals gathered in Northern Italy to discuss the assurance of quality of medicine. Many of the original group had been deeply influenced by Avedis Donabedian and the European focus in the original executive of the Society was evident. With the leadership of Peter Reizenstein as President in 1986 and then Journal Editor, the Society has grown through our Annual International Conference Programme and Journal.

ISQua’s secretariat was established in Australia in 1995 and was based in Melbourne for thirteen years. In 2008, following many discussions with the Board and our members, our international office was relocated to Dublin, Ireland.

Main Objectives and Strategic Goals

The main objectives of the Society are:

(a)    To promote quality improvement on a continual basis in health care internationally in both public and private sectors, among politicians, senior government officials, industry, representatives of the media, health institution managers, educators, health care providers and consumers, and other purchasers of health care.

(b)    To focus on the methodologies needed to facilitate quality in health care and to develop programmes and activities related to these.

(c)    To organize scientific meetings and to encourage the organization of such meetings on both a global and a regional basis.

(d)    To publish the International Journal for Quality in Health Care and such other relevant publications, may be determined by the Executive Board.

(e)    To promote external evaluation of health care including the provision of an internationally agreed method of assessment of health care standards and also for an internationally agreed method of accreditation for health care accreditation organizations.

(f)    To promote research and education in quality improvement in health care, with particular regard to cost effectiveness, cost benefit and cost utility analysis, clinical epidemiology and measures of quality of life and consumer satisfaction.

(g)    To maintain corresponding relationships with other relevant international and regional organizations concerned with assuring quality improvement and the maintenance of optimal standards in health care.

ISQua’s Mission

“Driving and enabling continual improvement in the quality and safety of health care worldwide through education, research, collaboration and the dissemination of evidence-based knowledge”

Strategic Goals

ISQua is committed to leading continuous improvement in health care. In order to achieve this aim, six key Strategic Goals have been determined:

  • Provide global leadership for quality and safety improvement.
  • Increase and improve communication, engagement and influence with all stakeholders.
  • Establish key strategic alliances to support fulfilment of Mission.
  • Establish effective educational opportunities in quality and safety across all regions.
  • Develop and execute an effective business model for all activities.
  • Develop and enable the use of knowledge and research in quality and safety.

Core Programmes

ISQua realizes its mission and strategic goals through the provision of six core programs:

  • The Annual International Conference and Regional Meetings
  • ISQua’s International Accreditation Programme (IAP)
  • Publication of the International Journal for Quality in Health Care
  • Supporting our Membership and Services, including Mentorships and Scholarships
  • Education programmes in health care safety and quality
  • Establishing Strategic Alliances to support advancement of our mission and delivery of our core programmes

Annual International Conference and Regional Meetings

ISQua’s International Annual Conference is a major event on the calendar of quality and safety in health care. This year, in 2009, ISQua’s 26th International Conference is being hosted in Dublin. Future plans include Paris in 2010 and Hong Kong in 2011.

To compliment the annual conference ISQua supports regional meetings on specific quality and safety related topics, e.g. e-Health and Development and Implementation of Clinical Indicators. Malaysia hosted the 2009 Regional Conference and we will visit America and the Middle East over the next couple of years.

ISQua’s International Accreditation Programme (IAP)

The International Accreditation Programme celebrates its tenth birthday this year. Over the years ISQua has developed and established a programme that accredits accreditation, external evaluation and standards setting bodies against international principles and standards. The programme promotes quality improvement through self-evaluation and external peer review processes.

When the programme began, the focus was on accrediting the accreditation programmes of national organizations in developed countries. The programme has expanded to include a much wider range of external evaluation and standards setting bodies, and to improve access for rapidly increasing accreditation organizations in transitional and developing countries.

This product provides the only global external evaluation programme, specific to health care that “Accredits the Accreditors.” It does this through the provision of three international accreditation programmes – standards, organization and surveyor training.

Each programme is independent, although it is recommended that for organizations seeking both standards and organizational accreditation, the standards assessment is undertaken first. All programmes provide a four year accreditation cycle and include:

  • self-assessment against a set of internationally validated standards
  • peer review evaluation (including written report and formal recommendations)
  • an accreditation award from ISQua
  • ongoing monitoring and improvement

Peer review validation for standards and surveyor training is undertaken as a desktop review and as an onsite visit for organizations seeking accreditation.


The following are the principles underlying all of ISQua’s accreditation programmes:

  • Leadership through effective planning, governance and management.
  • Customer focus to meet the needs of internal and external customers, both existing and potential.
  • Organizational performance through the management of processes and outcomes and the transparency of decision-making.
  • Continuous quality improvement based on innovation, evidence, best practice and evaluation to better meet the needs of customers.
  • Valuing people by appropriately selecting, training and appraising personnel and maintaining good relationships.
  • Safety by providing safe work environments and complying with statutory requirements.

To date, 13 organizations, 31 sets of health care standards and three surveyor training programmes have been accredited by ISQua. Successful ISQua Accreditation is granted for four years and subject to continuous assessment reports at three, 18 and 30 months post-award. All accreditation awards are presented annually at ISQua’s international conference.

It would not be possible to run the above accreditation programmes without the support of our surveyors. There are presently over 60 international surveyors from 20 countries working with ISQua on a voluntary basis. These are all involved in accreditation or standards setting bodies at a senior level.


The Journal was established in 1989. Since 1998 it has been published for ISQua by Oxford University Press and is highly regarded. Six issues are published each year. Further development is possible with the production of sponsored supplements, publication of case studies and user friendly articles. The Journal is one of the principle ways ISQua conveys evidence based information, relative to quality and safety, to health care professionals globally.

Supporting Membership, Mentorships and Scholarships

ISQua is a society with both individual and institutional members. At its core, ISQua is defined by its ability to attract individuals interested in, and expert in, the various aspects of health related safety and quality, and institutions that are setting the benchmarks for best practice.

ISQua is in official relations with the World Health Organization (WHO). This partnership lends itself to providing mentorship and scholarship programmes. Mentorships seek to provide opportunities for members and/or conference delegates to spend time in organizations whose work focuses on the improvement of health care services.

Scholarships provide for colleagues from transitional or developing countries to attend the annual conference. This year ISQua and the WHO are providing 20 scholarships. These have been distributed throughout the five WHO regions including Peru, Mongolia, Nigeria and India.

Education Programmes

ISQua is actively planning to expand its role in contributing to the improvement of health care quality and safety worldwide. The provision of educational opportunities in all regions is an emerging programme but an essential one for ISQua to realize its mission. These programmes will provide for the development of education related to improving quality and safety through innovative and user friendly models and as development proceeds, some programmes will be available online to be accessed globally.

Strategic Alliances

It is important for ISQua to forge strategic alliances/partnerships with other organizations with similar missions and values, for the mutual benefit of the organizations involved and the furthering of their respective missions.

The International Society for Quality in Health Care works to provide services to guide health professionals, providers, researchers, agencies, policy-makers and consumers to achieve excellence in health care delivery to all people and to continuously improve the quality and safety of care. Through its programmes and members in over 70 countries, ISQua offers a unique platform for the global medical community to share expertise and knowledge and continually learn from each other.

For further information go to or contact Triona Fortune, Director of Programmes at

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