Category: Quality Standards

Medical Tourism Quality Control

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There is a major difference in medical procedures prices between USA and major medical tourism destinations. International Quality Control institutions assure you that accredited worldwide medical providers conforms to the highest medical standards.

International Accreditations are setting the standards for medical tourism

The Quality of the services you get is crucial in the vast domain of healthcare, mainly because a failure to provide quality could have serious financial and social ramifications for both the patient as well as the provider. The medical ethics, based on the Hippocratic Oath that every doctor has to take before they embark on their medical journey is the corner stone of this profession. Nonetheless, medical ethics can change from one state to another, let alone from country to country. In some cases this ethical flexibility is important to encompass the cultural and social beliefs of the region. However, ethics with regards to quality of services need not vary, and most medical communities world over are now following similar ethics that comply with international healthcare standards. And, this is where accreditations come in, as standardization of such services has become increasingly important in this age of medical tourists. Globalization may have many flaws, but it has proven very useful in the global healthcare sector, where overall high medical costs in some countries are sending people oversees to take advantage of the same and sometimes better medical services at lower costs. Interestingly, this is one sphere wherein low costs certainly do not mean low standards. This boom in medical tourism has also given rise to the new breed of international accreditations. Here’s an overview of the importance and the who’s who of the international accreditations.

Are international accreditations important? 

International accreditations are only one of the many answers to the openness in the medical sector that governments and patients are demanding today. But again, they also do not work according to a checklist pattern to provide hospitals with the desired accreditations; rather they try to give them a realistic roadmap to help improve their services in compliance with the best of international standards. Most of these organizations have been providing internal healthcare accreditations within countries such as USA and Australia. However, looking at the scope of medical tourism world-wide, they have now expanded their services internationally. Hence, they are already in the know about the healthcare sector and are well-equipped to bring about a standardization of medical services worldwide. This standardization profits both the healthcare providers as well as the patients benefitting from their services, primarily because they safeguard the rights of the patients and help the medical facilities attract more patients. The advantages of international accreditation are manifold, as they ensure a safe environment that reduces risks for both care givers and recipients, offer benchmarks for patient safety and quality of services, improve efficiency, and reduce medical costs by initiating standardization of the medical processes.

How does a medical facility get accredited? 

Accreditations are expensive, for instance JCI a US based accreditations organization charges an average fee of $45000 for an accreditation survey. However, for a medical facility to get these accreditation seals, it needs to do much more than be able to pay this amount. A medical facility gets accredited depending on the safety norms and efficiency goals it incorporates in its overall performance, such as international patient safety, access to healthcare and follow up care, ethical inclusion of patient rights, measures towards prevention and control of infections, surgical care, availability of medications, qualifications and education of its medical and nursing staff, communication, and governance. Generally, once a facility has applied for a certain accreditation, the committee sends surveyors to check the quality and type of services offered by the medical set-up. These surveyors go through every aspect of the facility and in case of flaws, they help the set-up overcome them and better their services by conforming to international standards. Besides, this isn’t a one-time process but an on-going one that entails long-term commitment with regards to finances and time. A medical facility that has been accredited with any of the international seals can lose the accreditations at any time if they fail to match up to the standards set by the said committees.

What international accreditations are the most valuable for patients?

As a medical tourist looking for healthcare services abroad, you will come across hospitals and clinics claiming to have a variety of different international accreditations. In fact, some of these set-ups may even have more than one accreditation in their kitty. There is no single global organization for this purpose, but several of them that operate individually. However, most of these organizations operate out of western countries and are well-equipped for the task. The Joint Commission International (JCI) based in the United States is the more popular of the accreditation schemes today and is dependable too. Some other trustworthy accreditations are Trent Accreditation Scheme and QHA Trent Accreditation based in UK and Europe, Australian Council for Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI) in Australia, Accreditation Canada based in Canada, and Accreditation of France  or La Haute Autorité de Santé in Paris. Although, these organizations do not have a single governing body, there are some Non-Profit organizations that regulate and provide accreditations to such organizations accrediting healthcare services, such as The United Kingdom Accreditation Forum or UKAF from UK, and The International Society for Quality in Health Care based in Ireland are the umbrella organizations. So, when you check the accreditations of your healthcare providers, you could also make it a point to check if the accrediting party is registered with one of these two organizations to make sure they are genuine.

Is there a guarantee for the quality of medical services? 

These accreditation organizations are rarely incorrect in assessing the medical services of the healthcare providers. No doubt, checking for accredited hospitals will help you pick a facility out of the large resources available globally much more easily, yet remember that they are still not an absolute guarantee of quality services. Research these facilities on your own too, if possible speak to acquaintances or patients who may have used such services in the past.  Despite the spurt in medical facilities sporting such international accreditations, there undoubtedly are others that may be just as good but without accreditations yet. Nonetheless, for the purpose of safeguarding your rights and more importantly your health, it’s recommended that you research any facility you choose thoroughly, whether it has more than one accreditation or no accreditations at all.


Tags: medical tourism, quality assurance, international medical accreditation, jci, india hospitals

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