International healthcare accreditation is the process of certifying a level of quality for healthcare providers and programs across multiple countries. International healthcare accreditation organizations certify a wide range of healthcare programs such as hospitals, primary care centers, medical transport, and ambulatory care services. [ 19 ]
The oldest international accrediting body is Accreditation Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation, [ 20 ] which accredited the Bermuda Hospital Board as soon as 1968. Since then, it has accredited hospitals and health service organizations in ten other countries.
In the United States, the accreditation group Joint Commission International (JCI) was formed in 1994 to provide international clients education and consulting services. [ 21 ] Many international hospitals today see obtaining international accreditation as a way to attract American patients. [ 22 ]
Joint Commission International is a relative of the Joint Commission in the United States. Both are US-style independent private sector not-for-profit organizations that develop nationally and internationally recognized procedures and standards to help improve patient care and safety. They work with hospitals to help them meet Joint Commission standards for patient care and then accredit those hospitals meeting the standards. [ 23 ]
The different international healthcare accreditation schemes vary in quality, size, cost, intent and the skill and intensity of their marketing. They also vary in terms of cost to hospitals and healthcare institutions making use of them. [ 24 ]
Increasingly, some hospitals are looking towards dual international accreditation, perhaps having both JCI to cover potential US clientele, and Accreditation Canada. As a result of competition between clinics for American medical tourists, there have been initiatives to rank hospitals based on patient-reported metrics. [ 25 ]
Other organizations providing contributions to quality practices include:
- The United Kingdom Accreditation Forum (UKAF) is an established network of accreditation organisations with the intention of sharing experience good practice and new ideas around the methodology for accreditation programmes, covering issues such as developing healthcare quality standards, implementation of standards within healthcare organisations, assessment by peer review and exploration of the peer review techniques to include the recruitment, training, monitoring and evaluation of peer reviewers and the mechanisms for awards of accredited status to organisations. [ 26 ]