With quality healthcare assumed to be a universal goal, the growing interest in healthcare accreditation around the globe shouldn't come as a surprise.
Karen Timmons, Joint Commission International's chief executive officer, is witness to the growing move worldwide toward establishing accreditation programs for healthcare providers.
"We are finding many countries are looking toward accreditation as a means for improving the quality of care," Timmons says.
Timmons and John Helfrick, M.D., vice president at Joint Commission International, based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., will be presenting a seminar titled "Contemporary Accreditation's Impact: Credentialing, Performance Measurement and Medical Errors" at the "International Summit on the Private Health Sector."
"We are taking some of the areas that are hot topics in the United States and useful to the countries coming to the summit," Timmons says.
According to Timmons, foreign health officials have an appetite for the quality basics--such as establishing accreditation programs and credentialing providers--as well as more-advanced topics, including performance measurement and reducing medical errors.
In many countries provider credentialing still doesn't exist. "Other countries are wondering what it is and how you do it," Timmons says.
Yet these same countries are also eager to join in the international discussion of how to reduce medication errors or construct meaningful performance-measurement systems, challenges that are the buzz of health experts in the U.S.
Timmons hopes the seminar can offer the benefits of knowledge gained through experience without coming across as a pedantic lecture. "We try not to say here is an American model; we try to say here is what we've learned," Timmons says.
Joint Commission International began its international accreditation program two years ago and has watched participation in the program mushroom. Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, became the first hospital to be accredited through the Joint Commission International program earlier this year. Four more have achieved accreditation this year, and 20 hospitals have either completed surveys or are waiting to be surveyed.
Clients include hospitals in the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and South America. In many cases Joint Commission International is partnering with professional societies in other countries to create customized accreditation programs.