The implementation of the evaluation or certification plan for education and quality of health tourism services as a complement and in line with the IPD validation plan is a major step toward developing and improving the quality of tourism health services infrastructure in the country. Receiving such quality certificates from a community and credible reference by health tourism service providers can bring this assurance to international patients and applicants for health tourism services in their destination country, so that they can be more comfortable and with lower risk and worries ask for medical and therapeutic care. In fact, one of the most important competitive advantages for international medical centers is to obtain quality service certificates from reputable institutions and organizations. Maintaining and improving the quality of healthcare providers and facilitators is a key element in improving the quality of the international patient’s experience and applicants for health tourism services. And on the other hand, it plays an important role in positive image-making and improving the competitive position of destinations and countries at international level. The quality assessment, training and certification of quality health tourism services are considered as one of the strategic directions of health promotion development of the community, which shows the commitment of the country to provide quality services to health tourists. Assessing the quality of their services, carried out by a team of experts and professional and obtaining a quality service certificate, assures international patients and, in general, health tourists that its center is seriously providing quality care and health services. And by obtaining a higher grade certificate (bronze, silver, gold and diamonds), it would be expected that the competitive position of this center will be improved in the international and regional health tourism market.
The International Healthcare Association confirms that the issuance of a certificate of competency in the services of the International Patient Service is of great benefit to the community as well as to patients in the region, inland and in the international community. Adherence to the IMTSQC standards ensures that medical providers care about the needs and expectations of patient travelers from various geographical, cultural and religious backgrounds.
An Introduction to the Program
While millions of international patients are traveling to different countries worldwide in search of affordable medical, medical tourism or travel to receive medical and therapeutic services is one of the 10 most important trends of international tourism and it has become one of the most popular types of tourism in the world, too. Many countries compete for attracting international patients. However, many destinations and providers of medical tourism services do not have a clear understanding of the international patients’ market and their needs, expectations and aspirations, as well as of facilitators and international insurance companies. If a patient receives unsatisfactory health services and is not satisfied with their travels and the services they receive, the patient definitely promotes negatively about that destination or service provider for years. Accreditation systems such as JCI, ISQua, DVM, AC and other validation systems are good and valid indicators for assessing the quality of medical services.
However, these systems are not designed to evaluate the services, products and human resources of medical tourism centers or international patients. So, to monitor and evaluate the quality of medical tourism services, it should focus on a service value chain approach. Accordingly, the International Healthcare Association of Iran has implemented a plan for the issuance of health tourism certificates and the training of health and medical tourism services for clinics, hospitals, hospital hotels, intermediaries, companies and offices of health tourism services and active professionals in this field. In this way, the gap between the quality of medical services and the positive experiences of international patients traveling to Iran will be filled and the quality of the international health tourism experience in Iran will be improved, which will support the competitiveness of the country in the region and world in the field of health tourism.
Certification programs for activities in the field of medical tourism are being pursued by the International Healthcare Association in order to implement the strategy for the development of health tourism infrastructure; and are based on the approaches of recognized organizations active in the field of medical tourism such as the Medical Tourism Organization, International medical tourism journal, Medical tourism university, Visitengland, and is provided with expert advice.
This system for assessing the quality of medical tourism services has been designed with four major areas of international health tourism services and 33 subscales of standard quality of service based on key success factors (CSFs) in the industry.
The four major areas of quality health care services in this program are:
- Management service center standards
- International patient experience standards
- Medical tourism cycle services standards
- Sustainable business processes standards
The benefits of training and obtaining medical tourism certificates can be as follows:
– Increasing the flow of international and medical service seekers to the country;
– Enhancing trust and credibility of the country as a destination for health tourism and providers of health tourism services at international level;
– Providing and creating the best performance for medical services seekers;
– Promoting of the brand of the organization or provider of health services at the regional and international level;
– Increasing the confidence and security for international patients;
– Reducing costs and increasing focus and organizational efficiency for providers of medical tourism services;