The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published a technical document focussed on healthcare accreditation and quality of care. The document explores the role of accreditation and external evaluation of healthcare facilities and organizations.

This document gives a wide view of accreditation as a health care quality intervention by using a broad evidence base of accreditation and of other similar external evaluations, quality interventions and health systems research, combined with global interdisciplinary experience and expertise. It considers the linkages between accreditation and other key attributes of the health system and, using a health systems lens, discusses strategic questions that a health system decision-maker should consider. It does not represent normative guidance on whether or how to introduce or review accreditation or external evaluation, nor does it outline the process of setting up an accreditation body or programme.

Key Takeaways from the Report

  • Accreditation programmes can be developed nationally, by government, by independent agencies authorized to do so by governments, or by independent (commercial or not-for-profit) national or international agencies contracted by health care organizations.
  • As an accreditor, independence is key to ensuring validity and accuracy, and avoiding conflicts of interest.
  • Although the output of accreditation is accreditation status (i.e. whether accreditation has been achieved and, if so, at what level), accreditation should be seen as a continuous process to improve quality, not simply to achieve an end-point (i.e. to become accredited).
  • These authorized bodies may have an international presence, be a commercial entity or be a state-run independent organization (see country examples in Section 2.2), and more than one such body may be active in some settings.
  • Accreditation has traditionally been a voluntary process in which organizations choose to participate rather than being mandated by laws and regulations. However, this voluntary nature has undergone significant changes over the past two decades, and several countries have implemented mandatory accreditation programmes (23, 24) or programmes have become “quasi-mandatory” because of the degree of funding attached to participation and achievement of standards (7).”
  • Any accreditation body must be set up as a legal entity (or part of one) with clear legal responsibilities for assessing and assuring standards.
  • Accreditation status may provide a strong competitive advantage in attracting and retaining patients, and hence have an impact on financial flows.
  • Accreditation is seen as a medium- to long-term investment by these healthcare organizations.

Learn More & Download the Report

Complete the form below to get your copy of the report, “Health care accreditation and quality of care: exploring the role of accreditation and external evaluation of health care facilities and organizations,” published by WHO.

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