Are certification and accreditation useful guides for a service's quality?

 

An impossible solution...

One solution is to create an international body accrediting, certifying and able to expel for poor standards, "bad behaviour", hospitals, clinic,  doctors and agencies promoting medical tourism. This will never happen... although it will not stop people pursuing the dream of 'global accreditation' in the medical tourism sector.

We already have national and international accreditation of hospitals and clinics but country pride stops there being on international body. If anything, countries are moving to set up local alternatives to overseas accreditors.

Medical quality and medical tourism quality are different beasts.

The really big problem is that having medical accreditation does not mean a hospital or clinic is fit to deal with medical tourists. What are the language flue cues and cultural understanding of doctors and nurses? What about ethnic foods and religion? What about pre-care, post-care, patient record systems, and dealing with accommodation and family members travelling with the patient? The list goes on.

A partial solution

There is a partial solution that can work where a country has very tight government control over local hospitals. This already happens in Malaysia and South Korea, and is coming in Japan. It only works where the government effectively has control over most medical tourism promotion. That solution is to only promote a handful of specially selected hospitals and clinics by effectively giving them medical tourism licences over and above normal medical ones. There seem to be fewer problems of negligence and consumer problems in Malaysia, and to a lesser extent in South Korea, compared to 'ease of entry' competitors such as India and Thailand. It could work in China and Singapore too.

But, I cannot see this being of any benefit in Europe, the Middle East or North America; the numbers of potential hospitals and clinics is huge and government control is far less tight.

Regulation by the medical tourism industry

There is an argument for self-regulation. But we have scores of organisations offering a variety of accreditation and certification services, some of which require nothing more than paying a fee. But there is no consistency between providers and we have all seen what happens when you effectively allow bankers to control banking regulation!

Regulating medical tourism agencies

Consumers do not know if a medical tourism agency is working for them for a fee, working for the hospital for a fee, or both. Some agencies seem to ignore all principles of agency law and try to have it both ways.

My proposed solution is that every single medical tourism agency should be regulated and licensed by the country they are in. Those countries that only allow travel agencies to trade would find it easy to adapt as they already have different rules for travel agents, tour operators and airlines. Those countries that allow anyone to act as a travel agent would find it harder, but at least the consumer would know if an agency was or was not licensed.

Regulating hospitals and clinics

The problem for many customers is that they do not know if a clinic is a world leader attached to a teaching hospital, or an unlicensed shack in the middle of nowhere where a beautician has a go at cosmetic surgery with no training. Pretty pictures on websites can be faked easily, as property scammers have done for years. It is relatively easy to know if somewhere is a world leader or is a tiny one-man band. But the vast majority of hospitals and clinics are in between.

Perhaps we should stop re-inventing the wheel. When you plan a holiday or business trip one of the first things you do is to see if the hotel is one or five star, whether it is just bed and breakfast, or self-catering, or even a tent. The type of accommodation gives you a good clue on how much you expect to pay and the facilities. Some of the problems with medical tourism is that the customer is sold a “ five-star hospital” when in reality it could be a “no star boarding house” The customer has no way of comparing prices or value.

The solution...

We should talk to and learn from the specialist organisations that offer international and national ratings for hotels and restaurants and adopt a  star rating system for every hospital and clinic in the world that seriously promotes medical tourism.

Perhaps at the next medical tourism conference, instead of listening to the umpteenth presentation from Borovia on why we should send people to its “ world class hospitals, top doctors, great tourist attractions and lowest prices”,  delegates should talk about one thing... how the industry can establish such a system.

An international system is never going to happen, but using ISQua principles- a sort of international check list could be worked out, to be run by individual countries. International standards on goods and services are developed in just this way, and the system has worked well for decades for manufacturing. I recall that there is even one health accreditor that is heavily involved in ISO standards and can offer advice.

But, you say, how can you enforce it. Slowly, slowly is the answer. For sake of argument, let us call it the international standard of medical tourism... with a rating system from 1 to 10. Medical tourism agencies could refuse to work with anyone without an IMT rating. (Would they...?) Agencies of countries promoting medical tourism could refuse to promote any hospital or clinic without an IMT rating.

OK... it could take a decade to make it happen. But as hospitals and clinics would have to pay an annual fee and be subject to losing their IMT status, or having it reduced, then it could also sort out the real players from the dabblers. And making every medical tourism agency have a licence would put genuine professionals on a par with other tourism service providers, and would help keep out the less scrupulous operators.

The real beneficiary would be patients and customers who could tailor the location they use to the price they can afford. Everyone knows about star ratings for hotels - so it is easy to explain.

Am I suggesting international medical accreditation?

Absolutely not. Controlling certification and accreditation of hospitals, clinics, doctors and dentists must be left to the country where they operate. This is the only way sanctions can apply. Also, medical tourism should stop being "arrogant" and pretending to be above its marginal station, It must accept local civil law and how medical negligence does or does not work in another country.

Just as hotel accreditors leave fire and building safety, food safety, planning and other business basics to the country where the hotel is, then medical tourism must leave the basics of the laws concerning running a hospital to the host country.

Where current national and international accreditation fall down is that it is either pass or fail, and does not embrace the extra needs of medical tourists. Some form of star system grading hospitals and clinics for medical tourism would help customers decide whether they wanted the Hilton, a backstreet bed and breakfast, or a large tent!

FURTHER CONTENT PUBLISHED BY THIS AUTHOR

Assessing EU cross-border healthcare

Articles, 12 June, 2019

EU cross-border healthcare still requires improvement

Visas and medical travel

Articles, 01 May, 2019

Could visa rules deter medical tourists?

Global medical travel trends

Articles, 18 April, 2019

Get on board China’s Belt & Road initiative

UK-EU cross-border healthcare

Articles, 04 April, 2019

Predicting the Brexit effect on EU healthcare travel

Inbound US medical tourism analysis

News, 01 April, 2019

USCIPP identifies top 5 sources of medical tourists to USA

Global medical trends

Articles, 08 March, 2019

Global medical prices will keep rising in 2019

Which destination has the highest risk?

Articles, 07 February, 2019

New study compares risks of travel to global destinations

Promoting Traditional Chinese Medicine

Articles, 24 January, 2019

Will TCM move centre stage in global health tourism?

Medical Travel and Tourism Global Market Report – 1st Edition

Resources, 19 January, 2019

Special Offer: This new report discusses the dynamics of medical tourism and looks at the supply chain, business models, products and the consumer.

Medical Travel and Tourism Global Market Report – 1st Edition

Resources, 09 January, 2019

This new report discusses the dynamics of medical tourism and looks at the supply chain, business models, products and the consumer.

Chinese medical tourism scams

Articles, 11 December, 2018

Arrests in US$145m scam targeting Chinese medical travellers

Stars in the East

Articles, 06 December, 2018

The medical tourism axis is shifting

UK health tourism deception

News, 30 November, 2018

UK government figures on NHS health tourism are debunked

Global wellness tourism boom

Articles, 22 November, 2018

Wellness tourism is worth US$639bn, but what do these figures include?

EU cross-border healthcare

Articles, 09 November, 2018

EU Directive fails to meet expectations for medical tourism

Chinese outbound medical tourists

Articles, 03 October, 2018

How to tap into the Chinese medical travel market

Plea for proper figures

Articles, 19 September, 2018

International patient data overstates medical tourism reality

Anti-Tourism – did you predict THIS trend?

Articles, 30 July, 2018

UK’s Cornwall is discouraging tourists to two of its beaches this summer. Predicting medical travel trends is also dangerous.

Terrorism and political risk

Articles, 06 June, 2018

Growing global political volatility is a major risk for medical travel

“Medical tourists don’t need hotels”

Articles, 03 May, 2018

Why the growth of medical tourism is being limited by a lack of appropriate hotels

UK outbound tourism data

Articles, 16 April, 2018

Health warning on ONS 2017 data about British medical tourist volumes

Medical tourism facts and figures

Articles, 22 March, 2018

The magic of medical tourism numbers

The dangers of dealing with medical tourism financiers

Articles, 14 February, 2018

Beware financiers offering you deals that are too good to be true

Chinese outbound tourism changes

Articles, 01 February, 2018

The changing world of outbound Chinese medical tourism

Agreement on post-Brexit healthcare in EU

Articles, 05 October, 2017

Agreement reached on reciprocal healthcare for British and EU retirees

Ireland, Brexit and Cross Border Healthcare

Articles, 21 September, 2017

UK addresses position on Ireland land border

Medical tourism post-Brexit

Articles, 07 September, 2017

Brexit: Citizens living overseas are pawns for negotiators

UK citizens abroad post Brexit

Articles, 23 August, 2017

UK citizens in EU and EFTA countries

EU citizenship post Brexit

Articles, 08 June, 2017

What happens to EU/EFTA citizens in the UK after Brexit?

Brexit, the NHS and medical tourism

Articles, 02 June, 2017

Brexit bill: the half a billion pound NHS bill

European health insurance

Articles, 25 May, 2017

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - a much misunderstood arrangement

EU Package Travel Directive

Articles, 06 April, 2017

Do you know about the EU Package Travel Directive?

Tele-surgery and medical tourism

Articles, 22 March, 2017

Is tele-surgery a threat to medical tourism?

Travel ban impacts tourism

Articles, 13 March, 2017

New Trump order impacts US inbound tourism

Medical travel insurance

Articles, 01 March, 2017

Clearing up the confusion: insurance and medical tourism

Growth of healing hotels

Articles, 16 February, 2017

Healing Hotels of the World and luxury customers

Trump and medical tourism

Articles, 09 February, 2017

The Trump factor: Protectionism and medical tourism

Will Brexit damage UK medical tourism?

Articles, 16 November, 2016

Refuting the claims of a "medical tourism expert"

Medical tourism in 2016

Articles, 01 November, 2016

The upside down world of medical tourism

Medical tourism cruises?

Articles, 04 October, 2016

All aboard for a healthy trip

Medical tourism associations reducing?

Articles, 01 September, 2016

Where have all the national and regional associations gone?

Medical tourism 2016 overview

Articles, 18 August, 2016

Medical tourism in 2016: What has changed?

Healthcare after Brexit

Articles, 04 August, 2016

The future of cross border healthcare in Europe

The EU debate

Articles, 20 June, 2016

Brexit and medical tourism

International and expatriate healthcare and insurance 2016

Resources, 07 June, 2016

There are more opportunities than ever for insurers and brokers to sell health insurance globally to locals and expatriates.

End of the line for Satori

News, 30 April, 2016

US medical tourism agency Satori collapses

Cuba - restrictions still apply

News, 20 April, 2016

Barriers for US medical tourism to Cuba

Turkey medical tourism

News, 15 April, 2016

The falling star of medical tourism

Clamp down on illegal transplants

News, 15 April, 2016

Kidney transplant ban in Sri Lanka

Early days for Iran

News, 14 April, 2016

Sanctions and travel restrictions still in place

Barriers to domestic medical tourism

News, 12 April, 2016

Out-dated advertising rules affect Malaysia

Incentives for Puerto Rico

News, 11 April, 2016

Puerto Rico gearing up for medical tourism

"Uninsured Americans"... Fact or fiction?

News, 07 April, 2016

New data on US insurance

Bariatric travel... hidden cost?

News, 05 April, 2016

Report on impact of Canadians' obesity surgery abroad

Malaysia stays strong

News, 03 April, 2016

Growth in medical tourism despite economic slowdown

Zika virus repercussions

Articles, 01 April, 2016

Does Zika pose a threat to medical tourism?

Global travel trends

Articles, 01 April, 2016

How will tourism fare in 2016?

Tourism troubles in Turkey

Articles, 14 March, 2016

2016: A lost year for medical tourism in Turkey?

A Gulf of medical tourism?

Articles, 26 February, 2016

How is the falling oil price affecting medical tourism in the Middle East?

National Health Systems Report 2016

Resources, 10 February, 2016

This report provides insight into the National Health Systems of over 180 countries, and what their future plans are on a simple country-by-country basis.

Rising popularity of wellness travel

Articles, 25 January, 2016

Health and wellness and the luxury market

Is Asia getting it wrong?

Articles, 10 December, 2015

Medical tourism is not global: Are asian hospitals targeting the wrong markets?

What's my target market?

Articles, 27 November, 2015

Targeting medical tourists... demographics are dead...adapt or perish!

Your next conference speech

Articles, 15 October, 2015

Insert name here... a template for your medical tourism conference speech

Planning and preparation

Articles, 25 August, 2015

Impact analysis and medical tourism

Egypt healthcare struggles

News, 06 August, 2015

Pressure on Egypt's ailing health care system

Regulation of Israel medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Special team to investigate and prepare regulation of Israeli medical tourism

Lithuania medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Lithuania rues failure of cross border healthcare

Dubai acts to reduce healthcare costs

News, 06 August, 2015

DHA introduces price regulation model for private sector health services

Australia breast augmentation package

News, 06 August, 2015

Insurer changes medical tourism option

Health insurance compulsory

News, 06 August, 2015

Chinese visitors to Taiwan must have health insurance

Trends in global healthcare spend

News, 06 August, 2015

OECD Health Statistics 2015: Reductions in spending

Saudi Arabia... compulsory health insurance

News, 06 August, 2015

Compulsory health insurance to be introduced for most visitors

South Korea medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Recovery of South Korea medical tourism after MERS

Health insurance coverage in India

News, 06 August, 2015

86% of the rural population and 82% of the urban population are not covered by health insurance

Japan medical tourism

News, 06 August, 2015

Japanese plans to promote health tourism get mixed reaction

Dubai health insurance update

News, 06 August, 2015

Dubai links health insurance scheme to visa renewal

Comparing US surgeons

News, 06 August, 2015

Consumers to evaluate and compare surgeons based on complications rates and patient outcomes

Malta health plans under attack

News, 06 August, 2015

Doubt expressed about healthcare funding and medical tourism plans

Nigeria universal health coverage

News, 06 August, 2015

NHIS resolves to decentralize the operation of health insurance in the country

Economy problems

Articles, 31 July, 2015

Greece crisis... the implications for Greek medical tourism

Fact from fiction

Articles, 30 June, 2015

Analysing the latest "internet" facts on medical tourism

What are they up to...

Articles, 28 May, 2015

Competitor analysis in medical tourism

Working with competitors in medical tourism

Articles, 08 May, 2015

Who are your nearest competitors in inbound health and medical tourism?

Fakes, scams and frauds

Articles, 19 March, 2015

How do you know who is telling the truth?

Rallying to the Defence

Articles, 08 January, 2015

Medical tourism under attack and on the back foot

When all fails

Articles, 24 November, 2014

Ian Youngman looking into what happens after the worse happens

The future of medical tourism

Articles, 20 November, 2014

What will 2015 bring for medical tourism?

Central and South America: Health insurance, healthcare and medical tourism 2014

Resources, 14 November, 2014

This regional report provides up to date detail from recent research.

Hot topic: Ebola

Articles, 23 October, 2014

What threat does Ebola pose to medical tourism?

The medical magic

Articles, 06 October, 2014

Why do people travel for health, Ian Youngman discusses why

Medical tourism... good news?

Articles, 29 August, 2014

Does medical tourism benefit countries?

Temporary tourism

Articles, 23 July, 2014

Is medical tourism's growth based on hope or reality?

Do your research

Articles, 09 June, 2014

Knowing your market is key to success

Go compare

Articles, 22 May, 2014

Comparison sites, a threat or opportunity?

Don't believe the hype

Articles, 23 April, 2014

How medical tourism has changed and who not to believe

Tourist or Patient?

Articles, 20 March, 2014

The issues in measuring medical tourism numbers

Dental tourism trends

Articles, 21 February, 2014

Looking at the growth of the dental tourism market

The big questions

Articles, 24 January, 2014

Many problems in the medical tourism industry remain unanswered

The imperfect market

Articles, 19 December, 2013

Is the customer really looking for the cheapest surgery?

Travel insured: part 2

Articles, 04 November, 2013

Why isn't medical travel insured?

Travel insured: part 1

Articles, 21 October, 2013

What travel insurance exists?

Building and hoping

Articles, 06 September, 2013

Building a hospital rarely leads to patients beating a path to your door

Understanding customer choice

Articles, 09 August, 2013

How do medical tourist make decisions about destinations?

Stuck in the past

Articles, 28 June, 2013

Is medical tourism making the most of social media?

Headliners

Articles, 14 June, 2013

How bad news can affect medical tourism in a country

The tourism niche

Articles, 26 April, 2013

Are small industries a bad thing?

The tipping point

Articles, 12 April, 2013

Is medical tourism still a pioneer, or merely a bandwagon?

Disaster planning

Articles, 01 February, 2013

What happens when things go wrong?

Powerhouses of medical tourism

Articles, 04 January, 2013

What economies are booming in the medical tourism industries?

The numbers

Articles, 14 December, 2012

Ian Youngman revisits the figures of medical tourism

Accreditation

Articles, 21 September, 2012

Just what is accreditation in medical tourism and does it help your business?

Healthcare politics

Articles, 23 August, 2012

The impact of healthcare reform on the USA's medical tourism industry

The American tourist

Articles, 13 July, 2012

International Americans have not arrived, but what about domestic travel?

Medical tourism attacked

Articles, 18 May, 2012

Spain and the UK speak out against medical tourism

Changing world

Articles, 23 March, 2012

Ian Youngman talks on how the world of medical tourism has changed

Build it and they will come

Articles, 27 January, 2012

Is medical tourism a "Field of Dreams"?

Kolkata tragedy

Articles, 19 December, 2011

94 dead in a major fire, what does this mean for India's medical tourism industry?

Top ten tourist destinations

Articles, 14 November, 2011

Ian Youngman tries to pick out the top 2012 medical tourism destinations

Is medical tourism behind the curve?

Articles, 16 September, 2011

Friends, Fans and Followers are becoming a powerful market force

Recovering UK tourism

Articles, 23 June, 2011

Is outbound tourism from the UK recovering?

The shrinking world

Articles, 15 April, 2011

The medical tourism world is shrinking, but is this good news?

Why the Cayman Islands matter

Articles, 25 March, 2011

Ian Youngman talks on the Cayman Islands and their role in medical tourism

Insurance tourism

Articles, 07 March, 2011

How will health insurers adapt to medical tourism?

Medical tourism lost

Articles, 25 February, 2011

How the industry lost its way and how it can get back on track

EU directive: Cross-Border healthcare

Articles, 19 January, 2011

Ian Youngman looks at the challenges of implementation of Cross-Border healthcare

What do we know?

Articles, 10 November, 2010

Ian Youngman comments on an academic review of medical tourism

Implications of online advertising rules

Articles, 27 October, 2010

New rules may affect how medical treatment is advertised online

Changing trends

Articles, 30 September, 2010

How changes in tourism will affect medical travel

An industry out of nowhere

Articles, 03 September, 2010

A new global industry has sprung up, as have many before, what can we learn?

Europe agrees new rules

Articles, 17 June, 2010

Ian Youngman looks at the latest development of Cross-Border healthcare

USA healthcare reform

Articles, 21 April, 2010

Ian Youngman reviews the myths of the US healthcare reforms

Are you complying?

Articles, 12 March, 2010

Ian Youngman examines the new European Union Provision of Services regulation

Top ten hospitals

Articles, 27 January, 2010

Are assessments really fair?

The forgotten destination

Articles, 10 December, 2009

Oft overlooked, London could well be a slumbering giant in medical tourism

Getting social

Articles, 06 November, 2009

Medical tourism industries live and die on their press, but how good is the news ?

Legal, decent, honest and true

Articles, 22 October, 2009

Ian Youngman considers whether the medical tourism industry is both legal and ethical

Looking back at '08

Articles, 25 August, 2009

Ian Youngman looks at the predictions made back in 2008

Conference: Competition hots up

Articles, 16 July, 2009

Ian Youngman looks at the competitive market for medical tourism speakers

Will the boss pick up the bill?

Articles, 26 May, 2009

Can businesses insurers break into the medical tourism market

McKinsey's got it wrong

Articles, 26 May, 2009

A recent report on the industry makes some serious errors

The hottest American destinations

Articles, 15 May, 2009

One country serves travelling American medical care more than any other. America

Where do Americans go abroad?

Articles, 12 May, 2009

Just as we don't know how many Americans travel for care, we have no figures as to where

How many American medical tourists?

Articles, 10 May, 2009

There are wide variations in the American medical tourist estimates. We examine a few

Americans travelling abroad for care

Articles, 10 May, 2009

Do we have any idea how many Americans would travel abroad for treatment?

Delivering destinations

Articles, 28 April, 2009

Not every government is active in attracting medical travellers

Offering a premium service

Articles, 10 September, 2008

IMTJ looks at the new insurance products coming to market

Truth in statistics

Articles, 01 June, 2008

Ian Youngman talks on his work: Medical Tourism 2008: the World-wide Business Guide

South Korea: medical tourism report

Articles, 01 June, 2008

Ian Youngman is producing a new set of country specific reports, first up, South Korea

Insurance and medical travel

Articles, 10 May, 2008

Ian Youngman looks at the new products hitting the insurance market

Advertisement

ADD AN ARTICLE

Do you have an article that you’d like to share with the medical travel industry?

Publish for FREE on IMTJ.

ADD ARTICLE

Related Articles

UK non-surgical cosmetic surgery

18 April, 2019

UK non-surgical cosmetic market: a crisis waiting to happen?

Healthcare quality improvement

20 February, 2019

International accreditation requires CQI: what is it?

Chinese medical tourism scams

11 December, 2018

Arrests in US$145m scam targeting Chinese medical travellers

Medical tourism reviews

09 October, 2017

Medical tourism reviews: What role should they play in selecting a healthcare provider?

Medical tourism post-Brexit

07 September, 2017

Brexit: Citizens living overseas are pawns for negotiators