For patients considering medical tourism as an option, receiving safe and high quality care is one of their primary concerns when considering which foreign hospital to use. With the growth in the number of medical tourism facilities/providers available, quality and safety standards become all the more important.
To allay these concerns full service facilitators who assist medical travelers in planning the trip abroad, and foreign facilities reassure potential clients by promoting such services as:
- Certification from the most recognizable accreditation organizations
- Availability of Western trained physicians and care teams
- Affiliations with reputable, top-tier U.S. medical provider organizations, facilities, and or teaching hospitals
- Offering medical technologies that rival the top Western hospitals
- Use of clinical information technologies
Basically, medical facility accreditation is about not only improving how care is delivered to patients, but also the quality of the care the patients receive. When a hospital/ clinic receives the stamp of approval by a recognized independent third party accreditation organization that verifies the medical facility has passed certain standards in regards to medical ethics, safety, and performance of their medical personnel, the medical traveler should feel more comfortable selecting that facility.
So who are these accreditation organizations?
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- JCI Accreditation
Joint Commission International (JCI) is the global arm of the US-based Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). This is the same body that certifies over 18,000 hospitals in the United States. However all JCI hospitals are international hospitals that are located outside of the United States and have been accredited by the Joint Commission International
Although JCI approval is not the only accreditation available for medical tourism international facilities, it is the most widely accepted industry benchmark. JCI has accredited hospitals in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East during its nearly 10-year history. At the end of 2008, there were 242 JCI–accredited organizations in 35 countries with a growing list.
In order to provide an external recognition of JCI’s international achievement in the health care sector, JCI pursued and received accreditation by the International Society for Quality in Health Care’s (ISQua) International Accreditation Program. ISQua is an organization that accredits health care-accrediting bodies.
Acknowledging the growing demand for a respected organization to effectively evaluate quality and safety in international medical facilities, The Joint Commission International was launched by JCAHO in 1999. JCI's standards and qualifications are derived from an international consensus of achievable expectations for structures, outcomes, and processes for medical facilities. By working closely with partner hospitals, government agencies, health providers, insurance companies, legal experts, medical consultants, patients, and other major players in the larger health care industry, JCI strives to ensure consistency and reliability in its accreditation process.
Hospitals proudly display a JCI symbol to indicate they have gone through the lengthy and thorough accreditation process. The JCI accreditation is valid for three years. Online Medical Tourism.com tries to note on our facilities’ listings, where ever possible, the year and type of program that has been awarded a JCI accreditation. Look for it as you start the process of choosing a facility for your medical procedure.
Click here to learn more about the JCI Organization.
- ISO Certification
Established in 1946, ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a network of the national standards institutes of 159 countries. ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society. ISO is responsible for computer, manufacturing, and technology standards, as well as many aspects of the larger health care industry.
Be aware that ISO is not specifically a health care accrediting body. However, ISO and its member organizations do help ensure that hospitals and dental clinics closely adhere to strict international standards. If you find facilities stating that they have ISO accreditation, you have a much better chance of receiving optimal medical and dental care.
There are several ISO certifications. The ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families are between ISO's best known standards. The ISO 9000 series of certification addresses "quality management" issues such as the customer's quality requirements and the applicable regulatory requirements aimed at enhancing customer satisfaction, as well as achieving continual improvement in the pursuit of these objectives.
The ISO 14000 series of certification addresses the organization’s "environmental management.” The purpose of this certification is to show the willingness of the facility to minimize any harmful effects on the environment caused by the organization’s activities, and continually strives to achieve improvement in its environmental performance.
Click here to learn more about ISO Certification.
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, agencies, researchers, policy makers, and consumers, to achieve excellence in healthcare delivery to all people, as well as to continuously improve the quality and safety of care.
ISQua is setting the standards for health care. ISQua Accreditation is an external evaluation and recognition award that is offered to national or regional accrediting and certifying bodies. Please note that ISQua itself does not offer international accreditation or evaluation services to individual hospitals or to health care professionals. However, many of the independent accreditation organizations are themselves accredited by ISQua.
Click here to learn more about ISQua.
- Trent Accreditation Scheme (TAS)
Trent Accreditation Scheme aims to offer those who commission health services as well as the public, an objective means of being assured of the general quality of certain services. TAS surveyors evaluate a vast range of modalities of a hospital's or clinic's activities and governance, including management, equipment, clinical audit, research, training, and education, as well as clinical/medical activity. When the hospital or service meets or exceeds the TAS criteria, two years’ full accreditation is awarded.
The Trent Accreditation Scheme was created in the UK in 1993 as a result of concerns about the quality of care in isolated hospitals in the Trent Region of the UK, which was one of the largest NHS (National Health Service) regions. Although these regions no longer exist following several reorganizations of the NHS, the name “Trent Accreditation Scheme remains.”
The Trent Accreditation Scheme is the only whole hospital accreditation scheme based with the UK National Health Services (NHS.) All TAS surveyors work within the NHS system and/or private hospitals mainly as clinical staff or managers. Consequently TAS surveyors have access to all the up date medical practices. They also have links with all UK professions colleges such as medical Royal Colleges and universities. The Trent Accreditation Scheme standards are revised as practices change and new guidelines are issued by practicing staff. The Trent Accreditation Scheme is a real peer review scheme where surveyors can talk on an equal basis with staff in hospitals while understand fully the situation. No surveyors are paid for surveying and there are no full-time surveyors. All Trent surveyors are volunteers, who continue working in their clinical roles.
In 1999, the organization was invited to work with the private Hong Kong hospitals. In 2000 The Trent Scheme was the first accreditation scheme to survey and accredit a hospital in Asia in the city of Hong Kong.
In its overseas work the Trent Accreditation Scheme involves local people in setting the local standards so that the standards reflect local practice and culture. Trent Accreditation Scheme also trains local clinical and other staff to be surveyors. Since they do not inspect hospitals, the whole ethos of the Trent Accreditation Scheme is one of development. During surveys there are discussions and observations about medical practices. The Trent Accreditation Scheme maintains contact with hospitals between surveys to enable them to develop both the staff and their business organization.
In total, there are around 40 Trent-accredited hospitals. Go to their website to see the UK and Hong Kong list of hospital members. For the medical traveler is good to note that Trent is also expanding into the Philippines and into Malta.
Click here to learn more about TAS at their website.
Click here to learn more about TAS at Wikipedia.
- ACHSI Certification
After increasing global interest, the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS), Australia’s leading health care accreditation provider, established ACHS International in June 2005.
Since 1997 the ISQua International Accreditation has accredited the ACHS, including its subsidiary ACHSI. The ACHS accredits the majority of health care organizations in Australia. The health care organizations participating in ACHS quality programs range from major teaching hospitals, corporate offices of private health companies, day surgeries clinics, nursing agencies, community health centers, to divisions of general medical practices.
The ACHSI standards are well drafted and comparable to any other international standards. ACHSI accredited facilities can look forward to an ongoing relationship with ACHSI as a means of monitoring their progress toward the goals of quality improvement and patient safety.
You may find a listing of all ACHS Member organizations, their accreditation status and the date of expiry of their current accreditation on the ACHS website.
Click here to learn more about the Australian Council for Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI).
- Accreditation Canada
Formally known as the Canadian Council for Health Services Regulation (CCHSA), Accreditation Canada's programs and guidance have been helping organizations strive for excellence for more than 50 years. You may still see foreign hospitals with the CCHSA certificate listed on their websites. Accreditation Canada’s list of accredited organizations is updated twice a year.
Accreditation Canada's helps organizations across Canada and internationally to examine and improve the quality of service they provide to their patients and client. Accreditation Canada is a national, non-profit, independent organization. Accreditation Canada, the institution and the accreditation program, has been fully accredited three times since serving as a pilot for the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) in 1995.
Organizations that participate in this accreditation program benefit from a thorough assessment that leads to an action plan for improving every aspect of the health care and services they deliver. The Accreditation Canada certificate shows that the medical organization cares about patient safety and providing quality service. It also means the organization was assessed by its peers, met or exceeded national standards of excellence, and continues to strive for high quality health care.
Recognizing that one standard approach does not work for everyone, Accreditation Canada International customizes its accreditation program to meet the client’s needs. Working collaboratively with clients, Accreditation Canada provides continuous guidance without being prescriptive. Accreditation is not a “pass or fail.” Accreditation means helping organizations prepare for success. Accreditation Canada’s accreditation program is adaptable, culturally sensitive, and competitively priced. Implementation of the accreditation program and cycle is flexible depending on the client’s level of readiness.
Accreditation Canada is committed to playing a major role in improving patient safety by successfully transferring its national accreditation program to the international arena. Today you will find over a dozen countries including, Italy, France, and Ireland who use Accreditation Canada criteria in assessing their medical facilities.
Click here to learn more about Accreditation Canada.
- American Medical Association
The AMA is not an accreditation organization such as those organizations discussed above, however their mission is to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. AMA issues policy statements on important professional and public health issues.
Recognizing the fact that many Americans are traveling abroad for a variety of medical procedures, AMA advocates that employers, insurance companies, and other entities that offer incentives for or facilitate medical care outside the U.S. adhere to the following principles:
(1) Medical care outside of the U.S. must be voluntary.
(2) Financial incentives to travel outside the U.S. for medical care should not inappropriately limit the diagnostic and therapeutic alternatives that are offered to patients, or restrict treatment or referral options.
(3) Patients should only be referred for medical care to institutions that have been accredited by recognized international accrediting bodies (e.g., the Joint Commission International or the International Society for Quality in Health Care).
(4) Prior to travel, local follow-up care should be coordinated and financing should be arranged to ensure continuity of care when patients return from medical care outside the US.
(5) Coverage for travel outside the U.S. for medical care must include the costs of necessary follow-up care upon return to the U.S.
(6) Patients should be informed of their rights and legal recourse prior to agreeing to travel outside the U.S. for medical care.
(7) Access to physician licensing and outcome data, as well as facility accreditation and outcomes data, should be arranged for patients seeking medical care outside the U.S.
(8) The transfer of patient medical records to and from facilities outside the U.S. should be consistent with HIPAA guidelines.
(9) Patients choosing to travel outside the U.S. for medical care should be provided with information about the potential risks of combining surgical procedures with long flights and vacation activities.
Click here to learn more about the American Medical Association and their Guidelines at their website.
- The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
CARF reviews and grants accreditation services nationally and internationally on request of a facility or program. Our standards are rigorous, so those services that meet them are among the best available.
The standards themselves are updated annually and published in several different CARF standards manuals, each tailored to a specific field of service.
For the consumer, a CARF-accredited facility means the provider has passed an in-depth review of its services. It is your assurance that the provider meets rigorous CARF guidelines for service and quality. This is a qualified endorsement that your provider conforms to nationally and internationally recognized service standards and is focused on delivering the most favorable results for you.
You may request an accredited provider list by e-mail, stating the US state, Canadian province, or country in which you are seeking services.
Click here to go to the CARF website.
- The Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH)
The Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) was formed through the initiatives of the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) and the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
The Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) is an independent, not for profit organization. We work with participation from other healthcare professionals to ensure safety and continuous quality improvement in health in the services provided by healthcare facilities and services in Malaysia.
- Conduct a voluntary quality accreditation program for Malaysian healthcare organizations.
- Develop and continually review healthcare standards in consultation with the industry and professional bodies.
- Conduct education programs.
- Advice and consult on healthcare quality improvement.
- Publish resource materials for accreditation.
- Offer information services on quality in healthcare
We have member listings on our website.
Click here to go to the MSQH website.
- Quality Council of India (QCI)
Quality Council of India (QCI) has been set up as a joint initiative between the Government of India and the Indian Industry. QCI has established National Accreditation Boards suitable for the country and in accordance with the relevant international standards and guidelines.
Click here to go to the QCI website.
- National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH)
The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) is a constituent board of Quality Council of India. NABH was created to establish and operate accreditation programs for healthcare organizations. NABH is an institutional member since 2008 of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQUA). The approval of ISQua authenticates that NABH standards are in consonance with the global benchmarks set by ISQua. The hospitals accredited by NABH will have international recognition
Click here to go to the NABH website.
- Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC)
The Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) was formed in 1996 as the national agency for accreditation of conformity assessment bodies. SAC's primary function is to accredit conformity assessment services such as testing, calibration, inspection and certification.
SAC operates in accordance with relevant international standards and requirements. It works closely with government agencies on mutual recognition agreements with regional and international bodies for the facilitation of trade of Singapore.
Click here to go to the SAC website.
- Health Sciences Authority (Singapore)
The Health Sciences Authority is a Statutory Board dedicated to regulatory, scientific and service excellence.
Our mission is to:
- regulate health products
- serve the administration of justice
- secure the nation's blood supply
- safeguard the public health
Click here to go to the Health Sciences Authority website.
ISAPS members are board certified plastic surgeons in 86 countries. Founded almost 40 years ago at the United Nations in New York, our mission is to provide up-to-date medical education for our member surgeons, to disseminate accurate and current information to the public and media, and to promote safe cosmetic surgery worldwide.
To qualify for membership in ISAPS, plastic surgeons have to undergo years of surgical specialty training, pass qualifying and certifying examinations in their respective countries (board certification), and be members in good standing in their national societies of plastic and aesthetic surgery. Once these requirements have been met, they apply for membership in ISAPS and undergo a rigorous evaluation process to establish their qualifications, capabilities, and commitment to high standards of ethics and patient safety.
The information on the ISAPA website for patients considering plastic surgery is informative. The website offers links to societies in all the major countries that have Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Associations as well as a list of facilities where ISAPS members perform their surgery. These facilities are accredited by Surgical Facilities Resources (SFR), the ISAPS International Accreditation partner.
Click here to go to the ISAPS website.
- AABB Accreditation
AABB's Accreditation Program strives to improve the quality and safety of collecting, processing, distributing, testing, and administering blood and blood products. The Accreditation Program assesses the quality and operational systems in place within the medical facility. The basis for assessment includes compliance with Standards, Code of Federal Regulations and federal guidance documents.
This independent assessment of a facility’s operations helps the facility to prepare for other inspections and serves as a valuable tool to improve both compliance and operations. Accreditation is granted for collection, processing, testing, distribution, as well as the administration of blood and blood components, cord blood activities, hematopoietic progenitor cell activities, perioperative activities, immunohematology reference laboratories, relationship testing activities, and SBB schools.
AABB’s Accreditation Program is accredited by ISQua, the International Society for Quality in Health Care.
Click here to go to the AABB website.