Concerned that while national/international accreditation is essential for the hospitals and clinics it sends customers to, US agency WorldMed Assist
has set up its own hospital quality evaluation programme to evaluate the quality of hospitals and health care facilities, purely on areas of importance to medical travellers. The company is only evaluating those hospitals it uses. It is neither a commercial venture nor an attempt to join the increasingly crowded international accreditation market. The programme was developed by Dr. Sharon Kleefield of Harvard Medical School.
WorldMed Assist has helped hundreds of consumer medical travellers since 2006. The quality evaluation programme is to stay ahead of the additional demands of self-funded employers as they have started to sign up for WorldMed Assist’s corporate medical travel services on a wider scale. The programme is claimed to be consistent with the best of US and international standards, but focuses on the additional requirements for those that accept medical travellers.
Wouter Hoeberechts of WorldMed Assist comments, “The objective is to be able to offer a high quality network that is safe for the patients. What we have found so far is that hospitals are very appreciative of our reviews since we provide them with input that allows them to become a better provider for international patients. It does not cost hospitals a single dollar. This is not a revenue generating programme, but only for the safety of the patient. Although we mainly use JCI hospitals we have a few in our network that are not JCI accredited, so we started with these. JCI is good, but our approach includes components of other bodies as well, allowing for a more rounded approach. It also includes our experience of having helped upwards of 600 international patients get treatment abroad. JCI only focuses on foundational and process metrics. We also include outcome metrics. We want to have our own, independent approach. It is impossible to keep up with what each accreditation organization provides and determine its merits/shortcomings. We also don't want to rely on what other organizations do and see things with our own eyes.”
Hoeberechts continues, “Our focus is an internal one. Our approach is not trying to copy or outdo JCI. We cannot review hospital processes with a level of detail that takes several JCI accreditors hundreds of person hours. We simply don't have the financial strength to do that, as much as we would like to. However, our approach focuses on reviewing the critical areas that, when passed, allow us to comfortably send patients to the reviewed hospital. The focus on outcome data is something that JCI does not have. We visit every hospital before sending any patients, and every 3 years after that. This is something that we have done from the outset. We have had our own review process in place from the outset as well. The new programme is a more rigorous, thorough and standardized approach. We are only looking at the nine hospitals in our network and those that we are considering adding to our network. We made a strategic decision very early on to keep our network small so that we are a relatively large player for each of our providers, get to know doctors, management, logistics very well, all of which leads to a better relationship, ultimately leading to a better and safer patient experience.”