As part of its plan to stake out a place in the international market for healthcare quality standards, Joint Commission International (JCI), the international arm of The Joint Commission (JC), in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), launched a new global program to improve patient care and safety worldwide.

JCI’s first demonstration project involves financially strapped, low-performing hospitals in Mexico, China and Palestine, according to JCI Chief Medical Officer David Jaimovich. In an interview with Modern Healthcare, he suggests that the demonstration project allows JCI to measure the program’s capabilities under the worst conditions.

The program, “Essentials of Health Care Quality and Patient Safety”, focuses on five high-risk areas known to have the greatest impact on quality and safety. It provides a way to evaluate progress and defines the levels of effort for each criterion. The five areas include:

1) leadership process

2) accountability,

3) competent and capable workforce,

4) safe environment for staff and patients, and,

5) clinical care of patients.

In an interview with Modern Healthcare, Asian healthcare expert Tsung-Mei Cheng, editor of Princeton’s International Forum, says China is committed to updating and upgrading its hospitals, so international benchmarking should be “enormously helpful.”

In Mexico, President Felipe Calderón emphasizes improvements to healthcare as way to maintain the healthy workforce required to sustain the strong economy vital to keeping the nation’s skilled workforce at home. Mexico’s status as a trade partner, neighbor and destination for Americans traveling and living abroad makes the United States a stakeholder in ensuring healthcare quality and safety in Mexico.

In fact, the increased migration of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans to Mexico is an important factor in Mexico’s efforts to upgrade its healthcare system to U.S. standards. Physicians in Mexico, many of whom were educated in U.S. medical schools are forming physicians groups and establishing American-style medical testing and diagnostic services. Some of these physicians have a goal and a hope that they can negotiate contracts with Medicare and other U.S insurers to provide services to U.S. citizens living in Mexico.

The push for international healthcare quality standards will continue to be a priority in a global economy. Foreign markets attractive to aging Baby Boomers, however, also provide tremendous opportunities for healthcare service providers. So it is no surprise that the Joint Commission wants to play an increased role in helping establish and maintain health quality and accreditation standards in many countries across the globe.

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