What is accreditation in healthcare?
An accreditation is public recognition given by a qualified body that certifies that specific protocols and methodologies that are standard practice are being followed by the concerned organization.
In manufacturing industries, the ISO has been a standard accreditation method. In the absence of a specific accreditation for healthcare in India in the past, many hospitals and clinics went in for ISO certification.
What are the various important accreditations in India?
The QCI – Quality Council of India, a quasi-Government body runs two important accreditation bodies, the NABL for pathology laboratories and the NABH for hospitals and for imaging centres.
Apart from these are other international accreditations, such as JCAHO for hospitals and UGC certifications for Universities.
Why are these accreditations important?
Accreditations ensure that a basic minimum standard is being followed as far as safe and optimum practices are concerned. An NABH or NABL does not certify how good the pathologist or radiologist or hospital is, but it does give the patients, their relatives and families and the referring doctors an assurance that the patients are being managed as per nationally prescribed norms. These norms are typically of international standards but changed and tweaked for the Indian environment.
An example from the NABH website describing what an NABH accreditation implies:
- Commitment to create a culture of quality, patient safety, efficiency and accountability towards patient care.
- Establishment of protocols and policies as per National/International Standards for patient care, medication management, consent process, patient safety, clinical outcomes, medical records, infection control and staffing.
- Patients are treated with respect, dignity and courtesy at all times.
- Patients are involved in care planning and decision making.
- Patients are treated by qualified and trained staff.
- Feedback from patients is sought and complaints (if any) are addressed.
- Transparency in billing and availability of tariff list.
- Continuous monitoring of its services for improvement.
- Commitment to prevent adverse events that may occur.
Patient safety is of paramount importance in all these accreditations. Safety protocols range from physical issues such as fire safety, to safe protocols while scanning or drawing blood. Staff safety is equally important.
SOPs and guidelines
There are clear standard operating protocols (SOPs) and guidelines that govern the running of practices and hospitals ranging from HR protocols for employees, to management of appointments, to turn-around-time for reports. All these are documented on paper and the staff has to be aware of these. The auditors who come to inspect the sites will question the employees regarding these protocols and it is expected that they know the answers to these questions and follow these rules on a day to day basis.
We are one of the few imaging centres in India to have both NABH (Fig. 1) and NABL (Fig. 2) and the only one in Mumbai with both these accreditations.
- Accreditations help patients and referring doctors choose hospitals and diagnostic centres that follow a basic minimum set of quality parameters as dictated by these recognized accreditation bodies.
- They give confidence that the hospitals and diagnostic centres are committed to providing an optimal level of healthcare.