February 01, 2010

Accreditation latest hit with hospitals

To attract patients, hospitals are increasingly using accreditation as a bait.

They are using the certification from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare (NABH) to highlight their quality, efficiency and effectiveness.

Bhawna Gulati, assistant director, NABH, said about 366 hospitals in India are in the race to get accredited. “40 have already been accredited. During accreditation, which is a mark of excellence, performance is assessed in relation to the set standards needed to drive quality.”

Girdhar J Gyani, secretary general, Quality Council of India, of which NABH is a constituent board, said, in case accredited hospitals deviate from set standards, they would be looked into and, if need be, the accreditation suspended till the deviations are corrected. “There would be monitoring of accredited hospitals to ensure that the standards are followed.”

“There is a change in perception among government hospitals and they are becoming more conscious about quality standards like private and corporate hospitals,” said Gyani.

Industry experts say accreditation is the need of the hour to boost the hospital’s image and thus, indirectly, revenues.

As accreditation helps in ironing out inefficiencies and improving processes, which could boost margins of hospitals by between 5% and 6%.

However, to get accredited, hospitals have to spend crores of rupees to set the systems in place. For example, a 100-bed, decade-old hospital could spend Rs 3-4 crore for structural improvements.

Anil K Maini, president, corporate development, Apollo Hospitals, said accreditation, especially from international authorities like Joint Commission International (JCI), is crucial for pulling in patients from across the world.

Accreditation ensures that guidelines are in place to protect against nosocomial or hospital-acquired infections, fire, chemicals, etc, said S C Sood, chairman, quality department, BL Kapoor Memorial Hospital in New Delhi. “We are working on getting accredited by NABH and all the requirements have been implemented.”

Insurance companies also look favourably upon NABH-approved hospitals, said Vivek Desai, managing director of healthcare consultancy firm Hosmac.

“Central government health scheme will make it mandatory for accreditation.”

However, some experts feel, though accreditation will ensure quality, it may not necessarily translate into higher patient inflows.

Ankur Bharti, consultant, Technopak, says due to poor awareness about accreditation, patients might not be able to properly differentiate between accredited and non accredited hospitals.

“It would be difficult to say how much a hospital may be able to harness out of accreditation.”

Link: Original Article

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