Accreditation is considered a standard through which a healthcare facility or service is shown to offer quality and healthcare that meet minimum standards and guidelines offered by various domestic and international quality boards.

For example, individuals want, and deserve, quality in healthcare, whether for dental, cosmetic, bariatric or other treatments and surgical procedures. Anyone entering a healthcare facility deserves to know that staff is trained, facilities are clean and that procedures follow standards that reduce chances of error, infection or negligence.

Healthcare and hospital accreditation in the U.S. is standard practice, but such is not the case for many international healthcare providers. Due to the growing popularity of healthcare tourism, however, international facilities are increasingly desirous of being rated (or graded) by U.S. and International accreditation organizations in order to offer competitive procedures in the fields of bariatric surgery and care, dental and cosmetic and plastic surgeries, as well as fertility treatment treatments and procedures.

Accreditation Organizations
One of the most well-known accreditation agencies in the world are the Joint Commission and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, (JC and JCAHO), the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), the Accreditation Commission for Health Care, Inc. (ACHC), and the Healthcare Quality Association on Accreditation (HQAA). Global healthcare in destinations such as Thailand, Singapore, India, South America, Egypt, Jordan, Hungary, Turkey and Croatia also see the need to show high standards and quality of medical care, and have taken steps to be accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI) as well as the Society for International Healthcare Accreditation (SOFIHA) based out of Britain. This is in addition to accreditation within domestic quality healthcare standards organizations in their own country of origin.

The Joint Commission and others designed like it evaluate medical facilities based on a standard of requirements that must be met in order to 'pass' inspection. Such considerations are key focal points of such inspection teams:

  • Medical staff credentials and training
  • Nursing staff credentials and training
  • Medication Management
  • Infection Control
  • Environment of Care
  • Patient Rights
  • Provision of Care Treatment Services

Such accreditation groups are not only expected, but also common in countries like the U.S., Western Europe, Australia and Canada, but recently, medical facilities in locations throughout the world are applying for accreditation from world-recognized organizations that literally place a 'stamp of approval' on a sole practitioner’s neighborhood office or a 300-bed state-of-the-art hospital.

Accreditation guidelines ensure an external review and evaluation of quality as well as management practices in a wide range of medical fields and scenarios. The focus is on patient care, from the moment they access care to when they are discharged from a hospital or medical facility. Other factors taken into consideration for accreditation include:

  • Quality of hands-on care
  • Education and training of staff
  • Proof of educational credentials
  • Ethical standards
  • Accreditation incorporates every department in healthcare facilities, including laboratory, pharmacy, infection control services, Human Resources and Health Information Technology services.

Medical Traveler Basics
Individual medical travelers must take the time to assess standards of care in foreign destinations. Medical care environments in foreign destinations are certainly different than what most Americans find in their own hospital settings. However, it might help to assess care by taking into consideration the following factors:

  • Quality, education and certification of facility medical staff
  • Evidence of continuing educational opportunities for medical staff
  • Track record of the clinic or hospital
  • Infection control record of clinic or hospital
  • Potential geographical risks of tropical disease/infections

Individuals wishing to find information about a specific facility may find resources at the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), which is considered the "umbrella" organization for international healthcare accreditation issues. Representing about 70 countries to date, ISQua is dedicated to improving safety and quality of care in facilities throughout the world.

Other International Accreditation facilities include:

  • The United Kingdom Accreditation Forum (UKAF)
  • Australian Council for Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI)
  • Canadian Council on Health Services Regulation (CCHSA)
  • Joint Commission International (JCI)
  • Trent Accreditation Scheme – aka Trent (U.K., Europe, Hong Kong, Malta, Philippines)

Before flying to a foreign destination for a surgical procedure or treatment, consumers are advised to carefully research the facility of his or her choice. Whenever possible, choose facilities that are accredited by domestic and credible accreditation organizations as well as International accreditation organizations such as those mentioned above.