A number of larger countries engage in hospital accreditation that is provided internally. Taking the USA as an example, numerous groups provide accreditation for internal healthcare organisations, including the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), the Joint Commission. the Accreditation Commission for Health Care. Inc. (ACHC), the “Exemplary Provider Program” of The Compliance Team and the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA).
Some other countries have looked towards accessing the services of the major international healthcare accreditation groups based in other countries to assess their healthcare services. There are many reasons for this, including cost, a desire to improve healthcare quality for one’s own citizens (good governance is at the basis of all high-quality healthcare), or a desire to market one’s healthcare services to “medical tourists” (see below). Some hospitals go for international healthcare accreditation as a de facto form of advertising.
In response to this marketing opportunity, some national accreditation groups have expanded their wings internationally, and gone on to survey and accredit hospitals outside of their own national borders. When they choose to do this, such groups can be said to be providing “international healthcare accreditation”.
This process of accreditation has been made increasingly complicated by the fact that in many parts of the world, more and more human beings are choosing to cross international borders to access healthcare, a phenomenon known as “medical tourism ” or “Global Healthcare “. Medical tourism /Global Healthcarecannot be ignored as a key issue in international healthcare accreditation – it is becoming increasingly important as millions of (especially) Europeans and Americans seek healthcare overseas outside of their own countries for a variety of reasons (including and especially affordability), and it represents a growing multi-billion euro/dollar/pound business of increasing importance to the economies of many countries, such as Singapore. Thailand. India. Hong Kong. Malaysia and the Philippines. The importance of medical tourism /Global Healthcare to the economy of developing countries is increasingly the subject of academic study. . and this synergy has a clear “knock-on” effect for those organisations based within the developed world who are seeking to develop the medical tourism /Global Healthcare market.
The reasons why patients are seeking out medical tourism /Global Healthcare options are manifold;
(a) healthcare may be too expensive at home
(b) waiting lists may be too long
(c) patients wish to access treatments not available at home (e. g. stem cell therapy, termination of pregnancy, unlicensed medications, gender re-assignment surgery)
(d) patients wish for greater confidentiality than may be feasible at home (e. g. HIV/AIDS treatment, infertility treatment, gender re-assignment surgery, face lifts)
(e) new challenges arise from time to time, such as new medical developments which are not universally accessible, the emergence of the so-called “superbugs” (e. g. MRSA. VRSA, VRE, Clostridium difficile. ESBL-producing E. coli ), problems with the blood transfusion supply (e. g. Chaga’s disease in the USA, HIV, HTLV-1 etc.), and the social imponderables such as war, political change and natural disasters. Any of these factors may lead to a loss of public confidence in healthcare services, and a desire to seek out healthcare overseas. The environmental and political situation will constantly vary throughout the world, and this will need to be factored into the equations.
The following quotation, taken from the website of Partners Harvard Medical International. crystallizes the increasing relevance of international health care accreditation and its growing commercial importance, particularly in relation to medical tourism /Global Healthcare. – “Internationally, the growth of the health care industry has resulted in increased competition, leading hospitals to attempt to differentiate themselves through accreditation and certification by internationally recognized health care evaluators. Recognition from these organizations is a powerful symbol of a health care organization’s commitment to high-quality health care, continuous improvement across all aspects of patient care and services, and patient safety”. Reflecting this, much of the discussion on medical tourism blog sites reflects the increasing importance of international healthcare and hospital accreditation to this industry