(2006), "Africa", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 19 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijhcqa.2006.06219aab.006Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Providing peace of mind for patients
Keywords: Quality improvement, Risk assessment, Health education
With the issue of patient safety in public and private healthcare facilities now sharply focused in the public eye all over the globe, the Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA), a not-for-profit organisation based in Pinelands, Cape Town, is working closely with a number of Provincial Departments of Health in South Africa. This will assist the Provinces with their commitment to service excellence.
Since 1995, COHSASA has worked with a total of 355 facilities and negotiated large contracts with five of South Africa’s nine provinces to undertake quality improvements to hospitals in the public sector, as well as accredited most hospitals in the MediClinic Group.
It has also acted in an advisory and consultancy capacity to health policy makers in Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Mozambique, Benin, Niger, other African countries and the Middle East, COHSASA is strategically placed to assist and facilitate major improvements in the delivery of quality healthcare across the continent.
The vision is to create a situation where all Africa’s people will benefit from the COHSASA accreditation programme with quality health services available across the continent.
Whilst great strides have been made there is a concern about the continuing haemorrhage of doctors and nurses which makes the business of improving quality care that much more difficult. The other factor that impacts on the success of quality improvement programmes is the toll that AIDS is takes on the health system.
In order to meet the challenging circumstances unique to Africa, COHSASA has developed two strategies: a system of recognising gradual improvements as the hospital strives for accreditation and a facilitation component that helps hospital staff to implement the required systems and standards that lead to quality improvement.
Tested and applied in both public and private hospitals in 6 of the nine provinces in South Africa, COHSASA’s standards have been adapted to meet local conditions, and are officially recognised by the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) as complying with international principles.
Data collected from hospitals is processed in COHSASA’s information system, which provides detailed reports on the strengths and weaknesses of each facility. Hospitals, regional and provincial authorities are continuously supplied with feedback identifying deficiencies so individual and regional intervention strategies can be implemented. Hospital staff are trained to use quality improvement methods over a period of 18 months to two years in a series of quality improvement programmes, workshops, training and facilitation processes.
Using a computerised project management programme, COHSASA monitors progress in the healthcare facility and reports on its findings, so hospitals having difficulties in improving their performance or requiring additional motivation are identified and assisted.
The COHSASA accreditation programme methodology evaluates facilities against endorsed and published standards from an initial baseline that measures current practice and operations in areas such as management, administration, human resource service, clinical services, clinical support services and hotel functions.
Management capacity has also been identified as a particular problem in South African hospitals, so in collaboration with the University of Natal’s Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, a Health Executive Development Programme is offered for hospital managers and clinical heads of departments.
To ensure that hospitals maintain their standards after being accredited, a maintenance programme requires hospitals to undergo a mini-survey of key and high-risk areas once a year. Following an external survey conducted initially after two years, and thereafter every three years, hospitals that maintain standards are re-accredited.
Hospitals accredited by COHSASA offer patients the peace of mind that they are receiving treatment in a healthcare facility that has clear objectives guiding its practice, systems monitoring the quality of service delivery, adequate hospital management systems and staff that are trained and competent, and a safe and clean environment for patients, staff and visitors that meets definite safety and legal requirements. However, adverse events do happen – even in accredited hospitals – but once the correct systems, including risk assessment programmes, are in place and being followed as part of everyday routine, the chance of adverse events happening is likely to be reduced.
More information at: www.cohsasa.co.za