Why this Vietnam hospital is pursuing global accreditation standards

City International Hospital aims to become a medical tourism hub, build more centres of excellence, and expand its network of satellite clinics.

“Our 2020 vision is to get JCI accreditation,” says Bao Tran, Planning and Marketing Director at City International Hospital in Vietnam. The 320-bed private hospital used to be run by ParkwayHealth, one of Asia’s largest healthcare providers. Now, it is all hands on deck to prepare for the journey towards accreditation, he tells Hospital Insights Asia.

Few hospitals in Vietnam have received the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation, which is a global gold standard in patient safety and care excellence. In 2015, Vinmec International Hospital was the first general hospital in Vietnam to receive this accreditation, followed by FV Hospital, reports Voice of Vietnam.

JCI accreditation could be a boon to City International Hospital’s aim to become a medical tourism hub, attracting patients from all over the region. But barriers remain – like many other countries, Vietnam is facing a doctor crunch. The country “is very similar to China, in that the public sector is dominant in healthcare,” Tran explains. This means that the good doctors are in the public sector, and “it’s very challenging to attract them to the private sector”.

“The best way is to try to import doctors from other countries,” Tran continues, citing Singapore and Malaysia as examples. “They come here as visiting doctors for example, three or four sessions a year, to do knowledge transfers.”

Patient safety first

The hospital is also prioritising patient safety, particularly around hand-off communications. “Handover between doctors is very important,” Tran emphasises, particularly as there are multiple staff and lots of paperwork involved – making human error a real possibility. “The ratio of incident reports is around 2 percent, but we try to improve to less than 1 percent in the next year,” says Tran.

In 2016, the hospital announced efforts to improve patient safety as part of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s goal of zero preventable deaths by 2020. Staff were trained to use techniques to improve handoffs during unit shift changes and between hospital departments, according to a media release. The hospital also made a commitment to decrease rates of ventilator-associated pneumonia, a healthcare-associated infection, by 50 percent in a year.

Meanwhile, the hospital is taking steps to improve access to its healthcare services outside of the city. To cut travel times for patients, the hospital is building a network of satellite clinics within retail pharmacies across the country. “The mini clinic is a very popular model which comes from America,” Tran explains. These satellite clinics will take the form of GP clinics that sit within pharmacy outlets.

This expansion will be an aggressive and ambitious one. “In the next three years, we will build around 20 mini clinics and family clinics across Ho Chi Minh City and south Vietnam,” says Tran.

An internal expansion is taking place as well. The hospital is part of the Hi-tech Healthcare Park, a $1bn 40-hectare project that includes a healthcare zone with six hospitals; an education and training zone; a public zone with a hotel, convention centre and park; and more. When complete in a few years, it will be “very similar to SingHealth in Singapore, or Sunway in Malaysia”, Tran explains.

In medical parks of this scale, integration is key. “We are working with the other hospitals to create co-patient management – how to coordinate complex cases and develop a common framework for the doctors from different hospitals to work together.” Another focus is on building centres of excellence, particularly around cardiology, radiotherapy, and oncology, to expand the suite of services, Tran continues.

This hospital represents the new wave of modern hospitals are building their influence and providing quality services in the country. As Tran put it, “We want to develop Vietnam to be a rising star of medical services in the region.”

“We want to develop Vietnam to be a rising star of medical services in the region.”

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