FV have just been awarded the premier international credential for healthcare facilities. So what exactly does this mean?
The French-Vietnamese Hospital, or FV as they’re now known, long struggled with one inescapable fact. They were for many years the only ‘international’ standard hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. This meant that when they got things right, which was the vast majority of the time, not a word was said — it was expected. But at the hint of an error, they met the apocalypse.
Fortunately for the District 7 institution, there are now other hospitals heading towards worldwide standards. Not only is this good for FV — competition means they have to improve and are no longer observed by the watching masses through a microscope — but it is also good for the 10 million-plus population of this city. More hospital options means more choice and most importantly, better-quality healthcare.
FV have responded to increased competition by raising the bar, and after years of preparation have received the Gold Seal of Approval from Joint Commission International (JCI). An organisation that “works to improve patient safety and quality of health care in the international community”, JCI not only offers education, publications and advisory services, but international accreditation and certification.
This means, says FV director Dr. Jean-Marcel Guillon, that the quality of doctors and nurses will improve, or as he describes it, being “JCI-accredited attracts the best professionals.”
He adds: “Our recruitment criteria and the recruitment process have had to become even more stringent than before, because we have to ensure to our patients that our doctors have the right credentials, skills and experience.”
The process of getting accredited, as it is in all industries, is long and often complicated, because complying with a new set of standards requires making a number of changes to daily practice and procedures.
According to Dr. Guillon, it means “changing the culture of the staff and doctors, putting patient safety first, making sure that patient rights are respected, using evidence-based medicine, respecting medical and corporate ethics at all times, making sure the facility is safe and perfectly maintained and so much more. It’s not easy.”
He adds: “We had to raise our level considerably to guarantee patient safety, improve outcomes, and improve the way we take care of and treat patients. There are benefits everywhere — it permeates the entire hospital.”
The accreditation process meant writing programmes for the likes of infection and and quality control, as well as hundreds of policies and procedures. It also meant training staff and ensuring that checks and balances were put in place to monitor compliance. For this FV put together a task force of 65 people “who acted like surveyors”. Together they did ‘tracers’ on patients — following the patient from the moment they entered A&E until the moment they were discharged — and reviewed the knowledge and compliance of all staff.
The result of being accredited goes beyond just what FV can offer to patients. It’s also about the staff themselves, says Dr. Guillon, as it “gives a feeling of prestige, reinforces team spirit, and acts as a motivator.”
He adds: “The quality journey is a real journey — you don’t stop because you’ve got to a milestone. First you have to maintain the same level to get re-accredited, but also JCI always comes up with new standards so you always have to get better. So in that journey there are other milestones. For example we are already working as being recognised by the WHO as a Mother and Baby Friendly Hospital, and we are working to become a ‘pain-free hospital’.”
So does this mean that FV is unequivocally the best international hospital in Vietnam? Dr. Guillon refuses to be drawn on this question. All he says is, “We’re definitely among the best, but I’ll let our patients decide that.”