Like me, you probably check reviews before trying a new restaurant or hotel. If we research these small decisions, it’s only logical that when it comes to big decisions like choosing a health care provider, we look for both qualitative and quantitative data to guide our choices.
Accreditation is one set of standards we use in the United States to ensure we receive treatment from competent caregivers in a safe environment—and at a reasonable cost. Approval from internationally and nationally recognized boards and organizations gives us this peace of mind.
This trend has also moved into the mindset of patients and health care providers worldwide.
Globalization has given rise to new health care delivery models, redesigned clinical processes and organizational restructurings—which hospitals around the world are implementing with varying levels of success. And as the boundaries between consumers dissolve, there is a greater need to protect patients from potential harm due to ineffective, unregulated or substandard health products and medical services that are appearing more commonly in global markets.
We’re also seeing the rapid growth of privately financed specialty hospitals, particularly in emerging markets. While public hospitals typically treat all patients, private hospitals need to attract patients with the means to pay for acute or elective care.
To keep up with the times and stay competitive, private hospitals must institute a culture of patient safety and quality. As it stands, estimates show that even in developed countries, as many as one in 10 patients suffers harm while receiving hospital care.
Poor patient safety practices—like medication errors, inadequate infection control and lack of communication—lead to high hospital readmission rates, extended lengths of stay, mortality, and complications such as pressure ulcers or falls. These outcomes are unacceptable, and they’re largely avoidable.
Creating a safe environment for patients and hospital staff takes time and commitment. Patient safety involves lowering the risks of preventable harm, eliminating medical errors and complications of care, ensuring clinical excellence and reducing waste in care delivery.
We can demonstrate all of these goals by earning accreditation by national and international boards. These external, independent accreditors evaluate health care organizations against set national/international standards, state and federal laws, and internal policies and procedures.
Fortunately, globalization is also helping to increase the acceptance among international health systems to adopt these standards, as well as expanding opportunities to learn best practices from the world’s leading experts on quality and patient safety.
At Johns Hopkins Medicine International (JHI), we encourage our health care affiliates around the world to strive for accreditation—it’s usually a first topic of conversation and a fixture of our contracts.
This work is made easier because Johns Hopkins is home to the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. The institute develops and delivers training programs, supports research, provides consultation and technical support to Johns Hopkins hospitals, but also to our health partners around the world.
JHI—often with support from the Armstrong Institute—typically works with our affiliates to achieve accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. JCI is one of the most widely recognized hospital accreditors around the world, and it involves a rigorous review process—from management to quality of care, from patient safety to physical facilities.
This rigor is exactly why we expect our affiliates to undergo this demanding process. We’ve seen it result in a range of impressive achievements again and again:
Our affiliate Clemenceau Medical Center in Lebanon was first awarded JCI accreditation in 2009, making it one of only two medical centers in that country to hold this accreditation at the time. Our experts provided rigorous training for Clemenceau’s staff in quality, safety, infection control, leadership, nursing and human resource management. The medical center has been reaccredited in 2012 and 2015.
With our support, Hospital Punta Pacífica became the second officially JCI-accredited health institution in Panama in 2011. It’s still one of only two hospitals with this distinction in the country. We helped the hospital prepare for the review by providing rigorous training for its staff in quality, patient safety, infection control, leadership, nursing and human resource management, and by conducting assessments and mock surveys. It was reaccredited in 2014 and again this year.
As we know, globalization’s impact on health care is mixed in many ways. But accreditation is an instance where health care professionals are able to both import and export the best, most effective medical practices, processes and products.
In our global collaborations, we consider accreditation to be a reliably positive indicator that the building blocks are in place—both structurally and from a process perspective—so our affiliates can provide consistently safe and high-quality health care to patients in their local environment.