Having worked in the accreditation system, I consider accreditation as one of the pathways to improve Quality of care in any health system. It has been accepted globally as a regulatory intervention to set standards, and monitor quality of care. The idea behind an accreditation programme is to evaluate a health care organization via self and external assessment, against predetermined optimal standards, to improve and set standards of care. In addition, as countries like India use the insurance route towards achieving universal coverage, and accreditation offers an opportunity to use it as a tool to set standards and monitor quality of care at the National level. The standards framed for accreditation cover critical aspects both for organization and patient.
Accreditation offers both tangible and non-tangible benefits. The concept of accreditation, and ensuing recognition of having achieved a level, can motivate a facility to do better, validate a facility’s quality of care and therefore attract more patients. Standards can enhance the training and capacity building of staff, thereby increasing the motivation of staff. Patient satisfaction increases due to the improved services like reduction in waiting time for the services received, improved infrastructure, standardization of care. In addition, improving quality of care to match set standards can also be incentivized. For example, the CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) and ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS) have made provision to offer more remuneration to hospitals accredited by the NABH. So, at a time when health systems are struggling to provide even basic levels of care, and in low-resource settings like India, accreditation, particularly in phases can provide the framework, the know-how and the motivation for healthcare facilities to improve their quality of care.
HIFA profile: Manu Gupta is an Independent consultant in India. He is a HIFA catalyst for the WHO-HIFA project on Learning for Quality Health Services. https://www.hifa.org/projects/learning-quality-health-services manugupta08 AT gmail.com