24 August 2007

Hospitals told to get accredited

The Star

BATU PAHAT: Hospitals should strive towards obtaining accreditation to gain public confidence on its quality of patient care and safety.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said accreditation was also important to develop health tourism in the country as it would boost the brands of the hospitals and medical services.

He said there are currently 56 government hospitals and 17 private hospitals which have been accredited under the local MSQH Hospital Accreditation Programme. There are 131 government hospitals and 227 private hospitals nationwide.

Dr Chua also encouraged hospitals to go for the more established US-based JCI International Accreditation Programme, which none of our hospitals are under yet.

While the MSQH Hospital Accreditation is regionally accepted, the JCI is recognised internationally.

Dr Chua said, the Ministry had decided that the National Health Institute and the Selayang Hospital would be the first hospitals to work towards obtaining the JCI accreditation. The important thing is patient care and patient safety, he said, adding that he hoped private hospitals would follow suit.

Dr Chua said that getting accreditation is a tedious process and he recently stopped government hospitals from pursuing ISOs as they were less relevant to the healthcare industry.

Doctors were always too busy attending ISO meetings. ISO is more important for management, and not as important to clinical services.

For clinical services, getting accreditation is more important, he told reporters after launching the Pantai Hospital here.

He added that getting the JCI International Accreditation would prove that our hospitals are on par with other hospitals worldwide in terms of standards and this would boost health tourism efforts.

He said some of the problems faced in the health tourism sector include a lack of confidence by foreigners in patient care, no continuity in promotions, no coordination between private hospitals, tour agencies and the Ministry, and a lack of health tourism packages.

Dr Chua added that accreditation would be a criteria for the renewal of hospital licences in the future.

"We should be looking towards this in the future. I will be meeting the Private Hospitals Association next week to discuss standards of care," he said, adding that no time line had been set yet on the implementation of the criteria.

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