Quality Council of India asserts quality control over spas and hospitals

Spas will now be classified as wellness clinics, the Quality Council of India (QCI) has said. In a bid to put an end to unethical practices in spas and other healthcare clinics, QCI will launch the final edition of wellness and health care clinic standards during December. According to the QCI, experienced doctors using standard ayurvedic products should be appointed by all spas.

Unethical practices such as using several non-standard techniques for therapy and massaging should be discarded. At present, there is no check on activities at healthcare clinics and spas.

Preliminary standards for wellness and healthcare were launched during 2008, but overlapping with the standards of other bodies led to confusion. To solve this issue, QCI will now launch the final edition soon.

Schools, hospitals, laboratories, blood banks, and spas will be accredited from 2010. The repackaging of ancient healing practices for a modern consumer base is best typified by spa resorts. The concept of a spa is wellness in its purest form. But spas have mushroomed everywhere. The QCI standard will at first not be mandatory, but customers should understand to choose those spas that are accredited. QCI has many examples of unethical claims made by spas and related consumer and trade complaints. With huge growth in the wellness market, QCI feels it is important to develop a mechanism where spas are accredited.

Responsible spa and clinic owners are delighted that QCI is taking this initiative. It is very important for healthcare clinics and spas to have qualified ayurvedic doctors. Proper hygiene should be maintained, which is not the case at present in some spas.

It is not always feasible and economically viable for small Indian wellness operators to obtain accreditation from international agencies. Therefore, QCI felt a strong need to frame an Indian standard on par with international standards, which could be implemented by all in the industry.

In order to improve healthcare, at least one state government is considering a proposal asking all hospitals and private nursing homes to acquire accreditation from National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH). NABH is a constituent board of Quality Council of India, set up to establish and operate accreditation programme for healthcare organizations.

With the mushrooming of private hospitals, clinics and other health/wellness centres, authorities and state governments are concerned about quality of care. Most of the medical tourism industry also welcomes these initiatives as a way of proving to potential customers that very cheap does not equate to poor quality.

Hospitals, large and small, have in the past three months been scrambling for an accreditation by NABH, with 320 applications in the last three months. The sudden increase is because in May, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare made it mandatory for hospitals to have an NABH certification by December 2010 if they want to treat the large pool of Central Government employees under the CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme). An NABH tag has become attractive to big healthcare brands such as Apollo or Wockhardt Hospitals, even when they already sport an international certification. A national certification costs a quarter of an international one. National and international insurers prefer hospitals with an NABH accreditation.