The National accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) will launch surprise checks on accredited hospitals to ensure that institutions continuously meet the criteria of quality, NABH chairman Narottam Puri said on Thursday.
Delivering the sixth ‘Prof. T.K. Partha Sarathy Endowment Oration' under the auspices of the Sri Ramachandra University (SRU), he said the Board meeting in December had decided that the NABH will go for surprise checks as otherwise the system would be ineffective because at the end of the day, accreditation was a largely voluntary process.
The NABH also adopted the procedure of granting reaccreditation after a period of 18 months to monitor a hospital's continuous commitment to quality, Dr. Puri said.
Since its inception in 2006, the NABH had granted accreditation to 129 hospitals from a pool of 562 applicants and issued reaccreditation to 13 institutions. While NABH accreditation was increasingly being sought by private hospitals as a quality differentiator, quite a few large Government hospitals had also come forward for accreditation, Dr. Puri said.
The standards set by NABH which were uniquely tailored for the Indian healthcare and kept patient safety at the heart of the process, are now being applied for accrediting blood banks, small single-speciality hospitals, allopathic clinics and imaging units.
However, a challenge faced by the NABH was its imperative to uphold quality while not ignoring the equally pressing need to address issues of accessibility and affordability of healthcare especially in rural India, he said. The NABH, which was assisting the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare frame licensing guidelines for implementing the Clinical Establishments Act and standards for all steams of medicine, was also in consultation with the Medical Council of India on introducing patient-centric quality assurance in the medical curriculum, he said. The NABH was also trying to increase its pools of assessors and consultants, he said.
Dr. Puri, who traced the evolution of the quality movement post World War II, felt that in India, which as a country was so used to quantity and size, quality was now becoming centre-stage not just in manufacturing but in healthcare too. Interestingly, this push for quality in healthcare had come not from the Union Health Ministry but from the Tourism Ministry vis a vis its stake in medical tourism.
According to Dr. Puri, among licensing, certification and accreditation, accreditation was the important thing in healthcare not just because it was a marker of certain standards but also because unlike certification where the institution could set its own bar – for instance setting 24 hours as turnaround for lab reports and meeting it – accreditation required adherence to a set of standards set by an independent entity. And, among all the stakeholders who stood to gain from accreditation it was the patients who stood to benefit the most, he said.
Accreditation also stimulates continuous improvement, raises community confidence in services, provides an opportunity to benchmark against the best, improves overall professional development of clinicians and paramedics and provides an objective system of empanelment by insurance and other Third Party entities, he said.
V. R. Venkataachalam, SRU Chancellor, P. V. Vijayaraghavan, Dean-Education, Kalpana Balakrishnan, Professor, Environmental Health Engineering, Vijayalakshmi Thansekaraan, Controller of Examinations, and Balaji Singh, member, endowment committee also participated.