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What is Accreditation?

At a very general level, accreditation is a voluntary process by which institutions meet standards established by an external accrediting body. In the context of healthcare and medical tourism, the referred to “institutions” would usually be hospitals and clinics, and the “accrediting body” would refer to an organization such as the Joint Commission International (JCI) , Trent Accreditation Scheme, Accreditation Canada, or another agency that is recognized by the International Society for Quality in Health Care Inc. (ISQua).

According to ISQua: “accreditation is a formal process to ensure delivery of safe, high quality health care based on standards and processes devised and developed by health care professionals for health care services. It is also a public recognition of achievement by a healthcare organization, of requirements of national healthcare standards”.

Does it really matter if the Medical Tourism Hospital I choose is accredited?

Chances are you would not consult with an unlicensed surgeon, right? The whole idea with “accreditation”, or licensing, for that matter, is to offer interested parties a process of external quality evaluation against consensus healthcare standards. In other words, medical tourism patients are ensured of standardized healthcare practices, regardless of whether a facility is located in the United States, Costa Rica or Malaysia. In referring to its own accreditation process the JCI website says: “The accreditation process focuses on the functions and processes that support quality, safe care, and thus facilitates the use of the best science and professional knowledge and skills…Standardization through accreditation is a powerful risk reduction strategy proven effective around the world”.

Although the Joint Commission International is by far the most recognizable accrediting organization, there are currently eight other country specific organizations that are also ISQua members:

  • The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards
  • Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation
  • Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited
  • Irish Health Services Accreditation Board now HIQA
  • Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa
  • Taiwan Joint Commission on Healthcare Accreditation
  • Quality Improvement Council, Australia
  • CHKS Healthcare Accreditation Quality Unit, UK
  • Joint Commission International, USA

What are the benefits of accreditation?

For medical tourism patients it is an assurance that high standards of safety and quality of care are in place. Accreditation shows that a hospital or clinic cares about delivering quality services to its customers. It’s kind of like a guarantee that the organization's services have been awarded because they have delivered positive results.

How do I know if the Medical Tourism hospital I am going to is accredited?

Most hospitals will usually display accreditation information prominently on their websites. In the case of Joint Commission International accreditation, you can check to see if a hospital is accredited at http://www.jointcommissioninternational.org .

If the hospital is accredited does this mean my physician is accredited?

No it does not. In the first place, most accrediting organizations do not accredit individuals. Doctors will need to be licensed by local medical boards or similar entities. However, using an accredited hospital or clinic greatly increases the chances that you doctor is properly licensed.