So you have decided to get medical treatment in a foreign land. You have determined which procedure you will undergo and at which medical facility.
But do you know if that facility follows the international healthcare standards? Whether it can fulfill of all your treatment requirements? How would you know if their doctors are licensed and the procedures are clinically safe? This is where accreditation proves to be an essential part of medical tourism.
International Medical Tourism Accreditation or simply healthcare accreditation is an elective process in which an external body, namely an accreditation board, sets the standards for various health care services.
This body issues internationally-accepted accreditation certifications to medical clinics, hospitals and laboratories from all over the world.
Accreditation involves strict evaluation of the working conditions, staff, doctors, policies and services provided by a hospital. Accreditation ensures high standards of safety and quality of care to the patients.
Health care accreditation does not just involve the payment of the registration fees by a medical institution to acquire a certificate. The accreditation agencies also monitor if the institute makes efforts to maintain and improve its existing techniques and services.
It not only checks if the medical institutions follow the standards set by them, but also ensures the following benefits to the international patients:
It is often the case that medical travellers have little experience travelling overseas, especially to the non-english speaking countries. There’s a possibility that the doctors and the staff do not turn out to be good at english or the patients themselves are from a non-english speaking country and have poor education. In Thailand for example, the people in the tourism sector speak good english, but outside this sector english is quite poor.
Difference in the spoken language could render both the doctor and the patient helpless in an attempt to understand each other. The doctor might not be able to comprehend the patients’ queries and help him with his grievances.
Accreditation ensures that the doctors and the staff speak english as a mandatory language or the hospital provides language interpreters for its international patients to bridge this language barrier.
You plan your medical trips abroad with a lot of planning and professional consultation to ensure that you do not run across any problems during the trip. However, there always exists a slight chance that any unwanted medical complications like contact with new viruses, fresh infections due to transfusion of unscreened blood, etc. might develop.
These conditions increase the risk of operation and immediate medical care is needed to resolve these problems.
Internationally accredited medical clinics and hospitals have special provisions that provide emergency medical care to the patients in need. It is done to ensure that the hospital has the necessary strategies, infrastructure and staff to deal with any unforeseen incidents that may occur during the patient’s stay there.
Sterilization means the utilization of physical and chemical procedures to destroy microbial life, including bacterial endospores in reusable medical devices.
In various medical procedures, different medical devices and instruments might come in contact with the sterile body tissues. These devices are considered critical items because they can easily lead to disease transmission. Thus, it is very necessary to sterilize these devices in order to prevent contamination by any microbial agents.
Most of the devices can be decontaminated by heat. Other methods involve sterilization using chemicals or radiations. The accreditation standards specify the various sterilization methods that are permitted. These standards also keep a check on the quality of materials used for sterilization.
Apart from affordability and comfort, a patient also seeks the best of quality for a treatment. Quality of the procedure is not only measured on the basis of the expertise of the surgeon, but also on the basis of other factors as well. These factors include the hospital infrastructure, medical equipment, food served to the patients, working conditions and other facilities, etc.
Accreditation agencies conduct both internal and external surveys about the hospital conditions and as a result of these surveys, suggests the improvements in the existing hospital system. An accreditation software also keeps a regular check if its instructions are being followed by the hospital or not. This ensures quality to the patients.
Clinical methods refer to the laboratory techniques for conducting tests. Each hospital department has its own set of clinical methods for various procedures.
International accreditation agencies like JCI, etc. after a series of tests and experiments, provide a set of approved clinical methods for diagnostics, monitoring therapy, screening, etc. that the hospital has to follow.
Accreditation also provides ways to deal with clinical hazards like if a test has not been properly conducted, if a procedure has caused health risks to the patients, if medical reports have been misinterpreted or in the event of any chemical hazard.
If these guidelines are not followed strictly, it may lead to cancellation of the accreditation agreement with the hospital. By opting for such certified hospitals a patient can ensure that the treatment is clinically safe for their health.
An internationally accredited hospital has a predefined set of rules and standards, which it has to follow. These rules specify guidelines on various medical procedures, patient care, hospital ethics, etc. which the doctors and staff have to follow. These rules make certain that medical errors like misinterpretation of medical reports, leaving medical instruments inside the patient body after surgery, etc. are reduced to the smallest possible degree.
Efficient working of the hospital reduces the medical risks to the patients’ health and hence prevents any possible damage. The hospital, under an accreditation, only employs well-trained and licensed doctors to ensure the reliability of the procedures. The hospital staff is also trained for providing assistance to doctors in each and every procedure.
International medical tourism accreditation is an essential tool to provide the international patients with quality and reliable care, thereby minimizing health risks and promoting good ethics. So the next time you need a treatment overseas, do check if your hospital is accredited.