Clearing up the International Accreditation Noise

There is a lot of noise about accreditation in media and marketing surrounding international medical travel.  With few clear voices, sorting the message from the madness is challenging.

Accreditation, whether regulatory or voluntary, is simply a floor abointernational accreditation noiseve which a hospital must work.  That there are no “good, better, best” connotations implied or expressed in existing standards. There is a significant trap awaiting patients who believe, either having come to it on their own or through promotion by medical tourism facilitators, accreditation by one international body or another equals a standard of excellence.

The prevailing view is that international accreditation provides a comfort for international patients. Harvard Medical International cites the focus of this development on its website:

“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.”

One argument is to replace the many standards with one.  We believe, however, it is generally unimportant whether there’s a consistent international standard for traveling patients.  There is much more to the formula.

Soter Healthcare maintains a proprietary method of evaluating hospitals and medical providers with criteria found in some accreditation systems, but not in others. We integrate elements that create significant points of distinction in the care of international patients, which almost no accreditation bodies do well. We also include factors that do allow us to make comparisons between hospitals. It’s not just important; it’s imperative.

Many hospitals that market to international patients can’t meet Soter Healthcare’s credentialing standards and requirements. That may not mean they aren’t good hospitals.  In fact, some are very good.  But that’s not enough either.  Those of us who are willing to travel for outstanding care won’t settle for good enough.  For me, it really is this simple:  if the care, the hospitals, the physicians and others aren’t excellent, I won’t go…and I own the company.

If you’re interested in accessing outstanding care, excellent medical outcomes, the latest in treatment technique and technology, call or email us at Soter Healthcare.


5 Responses to “Clearing up the International Accreditation Noise”
  • Millicent Sulouff says:

    Thank you for doing this. I e-mailed my MP and am sharing this.

  • Todd says:

    You may want to be critical of JCI but it is only a baseline indicator. The focus is on patient safety and that is important but there are many other important elements to selecting hospitals (service, outcome data, patient volume, food, etc.)

    But lets face it, if a lawsuit was brought in American courts regarding a patient who traveled and you’re the defense, you’d be glad that patient traveled to a JCI accredited faciltiy. The Joint Commission International is a division of the The Joint Commission, an American based organization.

    • David Mair says:

      Todd, thanks for your comment. I don’t know that we are all that critical of JCI, other than those who market JCI accreditation alone as a market maker for international medical facilities. We agree that JCI brings some positives, as do some of the other international organizations, as part of a broader credentialing review. However, as you note, it’s not the end of the review, and, we don’t believe it brings the sway you suggest in a US or foreign court where the defendant(s) are international medical providers.

  • Maria Todd says:

    I completely agree. We know that there is little difference in the substance between brands of accreditation. If there were, ISQua would have a difficult time accrediting the accrediting bodies.

    There is a difference between certifications, designations (such as Planetree) and Accreditation. So often we hear inexperienced media reporters and facilitators throw around JCI accreditation as if it is some trophy and they make implications and sometimes outright mis-statements concerning the representation of JCI (and other) accreditation programs, assigning qualities and inferences that are 100% incorrect.

    One of the most often assumptions is that JCI accreditation is related to The Joint Commission in the USA. These two programs are each unique in their own right. They are unrelated, come from entirely different organizations, and have uniquely different standards. Also, another erroneous assumption is that JCI accreditation means that the hospital is “like” U.S. hospitals in some way. That is also incorrect. The JCI requires hospitals to be culturally sensitive to the cultures in which the care is delivered, not “like” a hospital in the USA.

    Still another mis-assumption is that having JCI accreditation means medical records are created and maintained in English. Not so. Nor does it mean that the patient will be treated in English and that the nurses and allied health professionals will be fluent in English.

    Thanks for raising this much needed topic.

    Maria K Todd, MHA PhD

  • Pam Brammann says:

    Great article!

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