In the recent times demand for quality in healthcare services has risen due to various market forces such as medical tourism, insurance, corporate growth and competition. As a result of these the expectations of the consumer for best in quality has also risen, which has indeed lead to the introduction of national and international accreditation bodies to act as a quality assurance mechanism, thus enhancing customers access to better healthcare services. National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) defines Hospital Accreditation as a public recognition by a national or international healthcare accreditation body, of the achievement of accreditation standards by a healthcare organization, demonstrated through an independent external peer assessment of that organizations level of performance in relation to the standards.
To further define, it is a “self-assessment and external peer assessment process used by health care organizations to accurately assess their level of performance in relation to established standards and to implement ways to continuously improve”. The various standards of accreditation are based on the principles of quality assurance, evidence based practice, medical ethics and prevention of medical error.
Health System in India is very dynamic and operates in an environment with rapid social, economical and technical changes. In the past there have been numerous instances of poor patient care, negligence, inadequate resources with inefficient facilities, lack of information and unwanted medical interventions. On the other hand it consists of different types of healthcare organizations and institutions delivering different levels of care not only to the local population but also to foreigners who visit India for medical treatment (Medical Tourism). Such being the case, assuring quality in healthcare services becomes a mandate and receiving an accreditation is the only answer to it. It is the single most approach for improving the current standards of the hospitals.
The level of confidence and faith of the people in hospitals can be increased through accreditation since it ensures that the accredited healthcare organization practices and delivers continuous quality services and also functions in the best interests of all patient’s. The primary goal of the accreditation is to ensure that the hospitals not only perform evidence based practices but also give importance to access, affordability, efficiency, quality and effectiveness of healthcare.
It is quite evident that many regulations made by the government are not followed in most states and hence the quality of healthcare remains poor and unattended. Since accreditation is voluntary, it challenges the medical regulations laid down by the government both at state and central level. Accreditation fills the gaps or removes the areas of deficiency and ultimately establishes optimum standards, professional accountability and clinical excellence. Even the Government has acknowledged that accreditation should be performed by a way of independent assessment programmes and with incentives both for secondary and tertiary level of hospitals to ensure patient safety and quality of care.
In India NABH was set up to establish and operate accreditation programme for healthcare organizations with the objective of enhancing healthcare delivery system and promoting continuous quality improvement and patient safety. Regardless of ownership, legal status, size and degree of independence it provides accreditation to hospitals in a non-discriminatory manner. The standards laid by NABH are accredited by International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua). This shows that the accredited hospital will also get international recognition.
In the USA, Joint Commission International (JCI) in the best known accrediting body whose standards of quality assurance and rigorous quality evaluation process is well known all over the world. As this concept is not new to the healthcare industry, other countries like Australia, Canada and UK also have their own models of hospital accreditation.
Variety of benefits can be availed by the healthcare organization on being certified by NABH. The biggest beneficiaries are the patients, since they are serviced by the credential medical staff. It also provides opportunity to the hospital to benchmark with the best in the industry. Since accreditation ensures continuous learning, leadership, good working environment and ownership of clinical process, the hospital staff feels more satisfied and contented at work. It provides an opportunity to get empanelled by various insurance companies and other third parties. Lastly, it provides access to reliable and certified information on facilities, infrastructure and level of care.
To conclude, accreditation is a transparent system of control over the accredited hospital which assures that the hospital will constantly fulfill the accreditation criteria. The on-site survey of the hospital and staff by the experienced accreditation assessment team encourages them to establish educational and performance improvement goals. The best part is that it gives the opportunity to the patients to give a feedback on the services they availed during their stay in the hospital and also to complain if they were dissatisfied. Finally it ensures that hospitals, whether public or private, national or expatriate, play there expected roles in national health system.
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