Monday, June 29, 2009

SOUTH KOREA: JCI and Korean Hospital Association work together

Joint Commission International (JCI) and the Korean Hospital Association (KHA) have agreed to establish programmes focused on improving the quality and safety of health care services in South Korea.

JCI has worked with health care organizations, ministries of health, and global organizations in more than 80 countries. It focuses on improving the safety of patient care through the provision of accreditation and certification services as well as through advisory and educational services aimed at helping organizations implement practical and sustainable solutions. JCI is accredited by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua).

KHA and JCI will assist hospitals in Korea as they strive to achieve a level of quality recognized worldwide. Together JCI and the KHA will:

* Establish an ongoing series of educational programs for KHA member hospitals.
* Translate and publish the Joint Commission International Accreditation Standards for Hospitals, Third Edition, into Korean.
* Establish a help desk for KHA members to answer their questions about JCI standards, accreditation and service.
* Distribute information on JCI standards for all accreditation programs via the KHA information network.
* Develop and promote the use of patient safety solutions for the benefit of South Korean patients and health professionals.

"Working with JCI will help the Korean Hospital Association raise the profile of health care in South Korea, and bring international recognition to the quality of care in South Korean hospitals. Improving the quality of health care and patient safety in South Korea is a strategic initiative of the KHA."
says Hoon Sang Chi of the Korean Hospital Association.

More than 246 public and private health care organizations in 36 countries have been accredited by JCI. Only one hospital in South Korea has achieved JCI accreditation-Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul. Others are working towards JCI accreditation.

With strong government support, South Korea is on the way to become a leading medical tourism destination in Asia. The South Korean government has introduced a new category of visa for tourists who visit the country for medical reasons. The foreign medical tourist visa, M, is adopted in a bid to boost the nation's medical tourism industry as local hospitals and medical institutes asked the government to simplify the visa issuance process. The new visa is issued in two forms, C3 (M), a 90-day visa for those with short-term treatment purposes, and G1 (M), a one-year visa for those who need long-term care.

A law change allowing Korean hospitals to market services to foreigners and team up with travel agents has major Seoul medical institutions offering packages to two million gyopo, ethnic Koreans living overseas, promising them faster and more affordable service

According to a new RNCOS research report, “Emerging Medical Tourism in South Korea”, government initiatives to promote the country as a medical tourism hub will fuel the growth in the South Korean medical tourism industry. Despite the gloomy outlook for the world economy, medical tourism industry in South Korea has witnessed an impressive growth of more than 55% in 2008 over the same period last year. Due to the global recession, South Korea is now 30% cheaper to visit than it was last year.

USA: US Surgeons association offers advice on medical tourism

The number of patients seeking medical and surgical care overseas has grown in recent years, prompting the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to study the issue and to develop an official “Statement on Medical and Surgical Tourism.” The ACS statement was developed with the patient’s interests in mind, and also offers guidelines for employers, agencies and insurers.

Doctor James Unti of the ACS Nora Institute for Surgical Patient Safety says, “It is important that individuals considering health care services outside the US become informed of the potential risks and complications as well as the medical, social, cultural, and legal implications of receiving such care.”

For those who chose to seek surgical care abroad, the ACS encourages patients to:

* Seek care of the highest quality.
* Select health care institutions that have met accreditation standards established by Joint Commission International, Trent International Accreditation Scheme, or a similar internationally recognized accrediting body. They should be aware that accreditation standards are not uniform and that standards set locally can vary from place to place around the world.
* Seek care from surgeons and anaesthesiologists certified in their respective specialties through a process equivalent to that recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialities in the United States.
* Prior to travel, make specific arrangements for continuity of care and follow-up care at home.
* Obtain a complete set of medical records prior to returning home so that the details of their care are immediately available to their physicians and surgeons in the U.S.
* Understand the special risks of combining long international flights and certain vacation activities with anaesthesia and surgical procedures.
* Consider the medical, social, cultural, and legal implications of seeking medical treatment abroad prior to deciding on a venue of care.

The ACS also
* Supports their rights to select their surgeons and health care institutions without restriction.
* Encourages its Fellows to assist all patients in reaching informed decisions concerning medical care, whether at home or abroad.
* In the event of proven medical liability for injury, viable means for the recovery of damages should be in place.
* Patients should be aware that many of the means for legal recourse available to citizens in the US are not universally accessible in other countries.
* Opposes the imposition of provisions for mandatory referral of patients by insurers to health care institutions outside the US
, unless such provisions are clearly and explicitly stated in the insurance contract and accepted by the subscriber.
* Opposes the addition of provisions for mandatory referral abroad for patients with insurance contracts already in force, unless there is a fully informed consent from the patient.
* Supports the view that employers or insurers referring patients for mandatory treatment abroad should be responsible for the coordination and reimbursement of follow-up care in the US, including the management of postoperative complications, readmissions, rehabilitation, and long-term care.

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons with more than 74,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Clinic

With heart disease the leading cause of death in the world, Bangkok Hospital is focusing on end-to-end management of cardiac patients with its new Cardiac Rehabilitation Clinic. In the short time it has been open, the clinic has helped thousands of patients regain their health and learn how to avoid a recurrence of their condition.

Cardiac patients are often told to consult their doctors before starting any exercise regimes. Bangkok Hospital's program provides constant medical feedback, and is designed to effect the quickest possible recovery while assuring patient safety.

The clinic provides:

  • An exercise-based cardiac recuperation and traning program
  • A relaxation clinic to reduce stress
  • Dietary counseling
  • EECP (enhanced external counterpulsation), where pneumatic cuffs around the legs inflate to force blood back into areas of the heart that may be lacking it

Cardiac rehabilitation is suitable for:

  • Patients recovering from a heart attack
  • Patients recovering from bypass surgery, angioplasty or pacemaker placement
  • Controlled cardiac arryhtmia and stable angina

There are separate programs for inpatients and outpatients, and individual programs may be tailored to any patient's unique situation. Both in- and out-patient programs include closely monitored, progressive physical activity to find safe levels, and focus on modifying risk factors and lifestyles. In-patients also learn about the disease process, and receive individualized dietary advice.

The Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is designed to provide complete care for cardiac patients and those at high risk of heart disease. A successful recovery from bypass surgery requires a thorough understanding of the process by the patient and the family. Recovery is directly related to the extent of damage already caused by coronary artery disease and the natural healing ability of the heart.

The cardiac rehabilitation team supports the individual and the body during the healing process and repair of the damaged tissues, and is well equipped with state-of-the-art technology and full-time cardiologists. Patient and family education is a part of cardiac rehabilitation program and helps everyone involved understand how the heart works and what can be done to improve and maintain excellent health.

Dr. Kitipan V.Arom , the director of the Bangkok Heart Hospital , feels that the growing number of clinics at the hospital is a great boon to patients. "Every condition needs to be managed differently. The doctors and staff who run our specialized centers and clinics quickly become expert at managing specific conditions, and patients have much better outcomes than at smaller facilities where generalist skills dominate in the workforce".

    INDIA: Indian Medical Travel Association launches

    The Indian Medical Travel Association (IMTA), an association formed recently to promote India's medical tourism industry is aggressively looking at this year promoting this high revenue-generating segment in the international markets of Middle East, Africa and Far East along with long haul markets Europe and USA. The association already has a membership of 40 hospitals, other service providers such as aruyveda, siddha and yoga clinics, wellness centres, and medical tourism agencies. It is targeting a membership of 100 in the coming months. It is also open to travel agents, tour operators and students. Most members are in India, but those who deal with it as a destination are also welcome.

    As a new association, IMTA’s immediate agenda is discussing with its members the best practices that can be adopted and bringing about uniformity by charting strategies to position India as a medical tourism destination. The association is a non-profit body and aims to be a unified voice for Indian healthcare (modern medicine as well as traditional Indian medicine) and travel industries.

    Pradeep Thukral, executive director, said, “The medical tourism industry has a huge potential with state-of-the-art facilities, availability of doctors, technology, English speaking nation and the hospital capacity to cater to medical tourists. The fact is that prior to choosing a hospital, international patients first decide on the country. So we must join to aggressively promote India as a preferred global healthcare destination." IMTJ asked him about the possible confusion of the use of the initials IMTA, “ We might cooperate with IMTA Singapore or Israel and if tomorrow an IMTA comes up in Iceland or Indonesia. Our objective is India focused only, unlike others.”

    The IMTA aims to

    • Empower all the stakeholders in the Indian medical travel industry to work together to make India the leading global healthcare destination.

    • Bring together the best providers in Indian healthcare and travel industries to help create a high quality, ethical and economically sustainable medical travel industry.

    • Promote and provide a forum for communication on a regular basis for exchange of views, development of industry networks, creation and distribution of knowledge, establishment of standards and work on an agenda to make India the leading global healthcare destination.

    • Promote and protect the safety and well-being of patients who choose India for their healthcare needs by creating channels for communication between patients, healthcare providers, overseas insurance and corporate referral groups, consultants and physicians from around the world.

    • Serve as a strong voice of the medical travel industry to Indian and overseas media and raise awareness about the high level of quality healthcare and services available in India.

    • Engage with the various arms of central and state government in India to influence public policy in national interest.

    • Educate members on new technologies, marketing techniques and best practices to help participants to operate more efficiently.

    The original "IMTA" (the International Medical Travel Association) declined to comment on the potential for confusion –now we have two IMTA's both using IMTA on their websites and in their communications.