Why Is Being Accredited Crucial for Telehealth?

A win for one is a win for all. Earning QAI accreditation for telehealth is a win for the entire sector. Here’s why

A global estimation of growth of the telemedicine market back in 2022 accounted for USD 63.5 billion followed by a projection to reach USD 590.9 billion by 2033. 

These numbers don’t just reflect an exponential growth in this industry, but also strongly reinforce the importance of quality in digital healthcare delivery. In the last couple of years, the accelerated adoption of telehealth across the country and beyond has made one thing clear- digital is part of the future for healthcare. However, that does not discount the fact that like any new development, telehealth too has its limitations. Hence, it’s time to improve and innovate new ways to tackle its challenges and ensure patient safety and medication safety that can help accelerate telehealth’s potential impact. 

And to achieve this the industry needs an evidence-based quality management system– a industry requirement that is now being fulfilled by telehealth accreditation from the prestigious Quality & Accreditation Institute (QAI) which is accredited  by International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua), the apex body for global standardisation of healthcare quality and safety. It is one of the fastest growing accreditation bodies in India and has launched 12 accreditation programs within 5 years of its operations. 

Now an institutional member of ISQua, QAI is the only accreditation body in India to have 2 sets of standards accredited by ISQua and is also a board member of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth (ISfTeH).

“While other accreditations existed to ensure quality of healthcare delivery in several Indian healthcare institutions, it was limited to conventional healthcare models like large to medium hospitals and clinics. The space of digital healthcare which is growing so fast and capable of humongous impact needs to have a focused approach to ensure quality and accreditation like this enables that,” says Dr Alexander Kuruvilla,  Chief Health Strategy Officer.

Practo recently was able to get accredited from QAI for their telehealth. 

How do accreditations ensure quality?

In 2005, Apollo Hospital, Indraprastha became the first Indian hospital to receive the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation and sixth in Asia. Then, in 2009, BM Birla Heart Research Centre, Kolkata became the first NABH-accredited hospital. And now, Practo becomes the first digital healthcare company in India and second in Asia, to receive the QAI accreditation for telehealth. 

While all of these firsts positively impacted the respective healthcare institutions, they did much more for the sector by upholding the value of quality and patient-centricity.

“From a healthcare sector perspective, having such a certification truly boosts confidence among all the stakeholders. From a business point of view as well, it positively influences shareholder confidence. But, the biggest beneficiary are the patients, for whom this works as a symbol or mark of quality that assists in decision-making for their healthcare journey,” adds Dr Alexander.

Here are some of the reasons why accreditation are highly valuable:

Trust and Transparency: No matter the platform, in-person or digital, healthcare companies need to strive to make a patient’s care journey seamless and hassle-free. This is only possible when trust and transparency of processes is established by the providers. And, ensuring this becomes even more important in the digi-health space, where patients have limited exposure to the healthcare providers. 

Patient Safety: Accreditation makes sure that healthcare providers deliver safe and effective care to their patients at all times. In the digital world, where telehealth is tackling and bridging the gap of access to healthcare services, it’s important to ensure the same level of safety and quality as in any traditional healthcare model. 

Standardisation: All patients deserve the same good quality of healthcare, no matter if they access medical assistance through in-person or telehealth channels. Accreditation aids in standardising healthcare practices and services and ensure consistent care is provided.

Regulatory Compliance: Accreditation motivates healthcare providers to strictly adhere and comply with regulatory requirements and standards, which is crucial especially for digital healthcare services. 

Continuous quality improvement (CQI): Getting an accreditation is not a one-time process, it’s a continuous effort to improve one’s quality standards and regulations. As new technologies and advancements are developed to improve efficiency of healthcare delivery, it is also important to have such constantly evolving mechanisms that consistently ensure quality. 

“We are entering a new era in healthcare which is going to be predominantly focused on improving medical efficacy and efficiency of healthcare systems through digital interventions. At a time like this, the existence of an independent body to consistently check and maintain quality is paramount. And I feel positive that such steps will eventually go on to transform the entire sector for the better,” concludes Dr Alexander

Dr Alexander Kuruvilla

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