K.V. Prasad

COIMBATORE: Hospitals focussed on medical tourism in Coimbatore are preparing for accreditation by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA) so that quality standards are raised to attract patients from the U.S., the U.K, the Gulf and the South East Asian countries.

Though there is a steady flow of patients for elective surgeries such as hip resurfacing and kidney transplant, a campaign is on to make the hospitals see the need for accreditation. The NBA is a unit of the Quality Council of India that has been formed to ensure quality in hospitals. At present, it is only voluntary and not mandatory to get accredited by the NBA. But, with overseas patients insisting on certain standards, it may become incumbent on hospitals to raise the quality of infrastructure and treatment and the service of paramedical staff.

"The ones who measure up to these requirements will survive and gain from medical tourism," says Coimbatore Management Association vice-president U.K. Ananthapadmanabhan, who is spearheading the campaign for accreditation.

"Speciality and corporate hospitals are into expansion. The buildings are being designed according to the Joint Commission International (JCI) standards," he says. "This is an indication of the healthcare sector gearing up to measure up to the requirements." JCI is one of the global accrediting bodies.

Campaigns are being held across the country to encourage hospitals to go in for accreditation.

Designing courses

Mr. Ananthapadmanabhan says the healthcare sector may even team up with universities in designing courses that can produce technicians for certain imaging wings. When such persons are employed in the hospitals, they will add to the credits needed for accreditation. In developed countries, accrediting bodies insist on specialised qualification for staff in such wings.

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Coimbatore Chapter's Healthcare Panel Convenor K.S. Ramalingam says the CII plans meetings for hospitals on medical tourism that will include accreditation as a key component.

"But even without medical tourism, accreditation may become a requirement. A situation may come when hospitals under even the Central Government Health Scheme may need accreditation. As it is not mandatory now, large hospitals that see a future in medical tourism will definitely work for accreditation," Dr. Ramalingam says.

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