Healthcare organizations face unique and dynamic challenges on a daily basis. Organizations attracting traveling patients generally understand the importance of mapping out the path for medical travel patients, yet may miss the mark in including and executing all of the necessary moving components. Organizations just starting to formalize a business plan for this process may find themselves, at best, in a vulnerable position due to not having access to resources respecting best practices for medical travel.
The Global Healthcare Accreditation Program was established in 2016 to bridge these gaps and assist organizations to improve the patient experience and excellence of care received by patients who travel for their medical care and treatment, whether within a country or region or internationally.
The Medical Travel industry, which encompasses Medical Tourism, evolved without a general framework to reference. Due to a number of factors – the presence or non-presence of services, the ability of individuals to travel, the type of travel available and word-of-mouth referrals – the Medical Travel industry is emerging as one of the faster growing consumer verticals in the global healthcare industry.
Global Healthcare Accreditation® (GHA) Program provides the framework needed by this health sector to accomplish the following:
• Validate existing practices through international best practices and standards;
• Achieve industry consensus in definition, measurement and benchmarking the industry; and
• Support the development of a strong business performance as well as positive patient outcomes and patient satisfaction for the traveling patient services in benchmarking the patient care continuum.
For those in The Medical Travel industry, there are a number of challenges, including the following key points:
Reaching for Validation
Organizations around the world have been using various frameworks to indicate their commitment to quality and safety. While these frameworks present positive patient safety and quality commitments, these frameworks do not provide a specific focus on medical travel. The Global Healthcare Accreditation Program is a laser focused dedication to the Medical Travel Care Continuum.
Clear Definitions and Consensus Do Not Exist
Healthcare executives cannot make intelligent decisions for their organizations unless they truly understand the context in which they do business. The Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) Program aims to promote consensus and clear definitions for the Medical Travel industry – in particular, “What is Medical Travel?”, “How is Length of Stay defined for a Medical Travel patient?”, “What is Quality in Medical Travel?”, and “What are meaningful Key Performance Indicators in Medical Travel?”.
Little to No Regulation Exists
Those that serve patients and those that manage the healthcare organizations on a daily basis understand the need for regulation, specifically for basic items such as workplace safety and infrastructure safety. When comparing different markets around the world, the prioritization of regulations as they pertain to the realities of medical travel patients is just too broad.
Accreditation is a first step in not only providing the individual healthcare organization a framework, but also a framework for governments to reference when considering the priorities for medical travel. In turn, the local population will benefit from a patient experience program that is measureable through KPI’s and therefore continuously improved. Ideally, the overall perception of a destination dedicated to medical travel could improve. Tools such as the Medical Tourism Index include the perception of a destination’s healthcare as one of the key components of the ranking survey.
Change is Inevitable
As globally recognized healthcare brands expand their global footprint, the global healthcare industry will become increasingly more competitive and defined as to consumer choice and preferences. As both ends of the service spectrum provide advantages as the medical travel industry continues to evolve – the question that remains is “Will organizations be referencing the correct framework for Medical Travel?” The Global Healthcare Accreditation (GHA) Program provides the ideal starting point to understand operational needs or validate current operations.
All healthcare organizations have an opportunity to engage the medical travel industry – if for no other reason, due to the fact of how individuals move around the globe. Healthcare needs can happen in a split second, all healthcare organizations need to have knowledge as to how best serve the traveling or non-local patient.