Choosing the appropriate medical tourism facility is the most important part of the medical travel process. There are many factors to consider, but paramount is the quality of care and reputation of the institution. There are few things more regrettable in life than a botched medical procedure. The first thing to look for is whether the medical institution is accredited by an international organization. The second thing is to research the background of the particular doctor who will treat you.
Any reputable medical institution should be accredited by either the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) or the Joint Commission International (JCI). These are the two leading global organizations which set the standards for hospitals and other medical institutions around the world. Accreditation by either of these two is positive evidence of the quality of services and management by the hospital or clinic.
The goal of all accreditation agencies is to establish uniform standards for the infrastructure, processes and results of each member hospital. JSI is considered the most prestigious of the accreditation agencies. Based in the United States, this organization is a virtual gold seal for a medical institution. The JCI also works with overseas medical institutions to help them evaluate, improve and maintain the quality of their healthcare.
The other main accreditation organization is the ISO. Around 100 countries belong to this international agency, whose goal is to manage the operational functions of medical facilities. Modern healthcare consumers are more aware than ever of the need for quality control when they undergo surgical procedures. Thus the role of the JCI and ISO has become very important to medical institutions worldwide.
In addition to these two heavyweights of the medical accreditation realm, a number of independent, non-profit organizations also endorse standards of quality in hospitals and clinics around the globe.
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) reviews medical institutions at their request. The Trent Accreditation Scheme (TAS) is an organization based in the UK which also seeks to encourage and endorse universal standards of healthcare quality throughout the world. An accreditation from either of these groups must come at the request of the medical institution, indicating a serious dedication on their part to quality assurance.
Many overseas medical institutions are also accredited by agencies operated by their own governments or NGOs within their country. These local-level groups are also an important source of information and quality assurance, although patients should be aware that every country has its own standards which vary widely from region to region. Still, no country wants to develop a reputation for having poor or dangerous medical care, so these groups are worth exploring.
The major medical tourism countries such as India, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore all have national accreditation organizations worth looking into. In Thailand, the Institute of Hospital Quality Improvement and Accreditation reviews and approves all of the kingdom’s registered medical facilities. The Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) is an independent organization working with local healthcare facilities to establish a standard of quality control. The Quality Council of India is the accreditation program for that country.