Large hospitals and health complexes in Latin America, especially those that attract medical tourists, understand the value of international accreditation. In fact, accreditation is a distinction that can make a huge difference in a medical facility’s prestige and popularity. However the directors of smaller hospitals, dental clinics and ambulatory healthcare facilities often consider accreditation too costly or unnecessary.
However, Patrick Goodness, CEO of The Goodness Company, a leading global healthcare marketing agency, predicts that accreditation will become the norm in Latin American (as it already is in most of North America) and those who choose to remain unaccredited will eventually actually pay a larger price than they might have if they had invested earlier. Here’s why:
- Accreditation is a quality guarantee for patients. It holds a hospital responsible for keeping up with the best practices and procedures. It’s not a one-time event, but a path to continuous improvement. The longer your hospital has been accredited, the more confidence it inspires in patients.
- Patients are becoming sensitive to the quality of the service they receive. A patient that suffers a bad experience in a hospital now has the means (through the Internet) to damage a hospital’s reputation. It’s important to notice that a patient will correlate every aspect of their hospital experience to its quality. Even issues with a receptionist, maintenance person or support staff can cause patient dissatisfaction and result in a patient broadcasting their displeasure widely via internet chat rooms or medical guide websites. This is why it is essential that everyone in your organization is trained and working at the same high standards. The high standards required for accreditation protect your reputation. Additionally, the accreditation process will help you identify problem areas and correct them.
- Depending on your location, the quality and price of local care will either encourage patients to travel to other countries for care or bring patients from abroad. Accreditation increases your chances of keeping your existing patients and attracting foreign patients.
- Hospitals with accreditation tend to have a better standing with local governments, especially if they are attracting foreign patients. Such hospitals have a greater chance of getting government grants, special programs, tax deductions, etc. For example, if your hospital is in a tourist destination, the local government might promote your hospital for free or for a lower cost as a means of attracting medical tourists.
The cost of accreditation may be lower than you think. Acreditas Global, a healthcare accreditation organization that specializes in accrediting healthcare organizations in Latin America, offers scaled-to-fit programs and pricing so that smaller facilities can be accredited.
“In a world of global healthcare options, accreditation is a positive brand differentiator,” says Goodness. “Accreditation is the new bottom line for assuring quality and safety in Latin America and around the world.”