Quality & Patient Safety

The upside of ISO certification

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, October 1, 2016

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In August, Morehead Memorial Hospital of Eden, North Carolina, became the 150th hospital in the United States to receive ISO 9001:2008 certification from DNV-GL Healthcare. To earn it, Morehead had to undergo four years of preparation and surveys from the DNV, in addition to meeting CMS requirements.

However, DNV-GL doesn't require that hospitals get ISO certification for accreditation. Which raises the question: Why should a hospital expend the effort for a voluntary certification?

What is ISO 9001:2008 certification?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent group based in Switzerland, with members in 163 countries. Founded in 1946, ISO's goal is the promotion of internationally recognized quality standards for every industry. To date, it has more than 21,000 international standards covering fields from technology, agriculture, food safety, and healthcare.

ISO's 9001:2008 certification isn't industry specific and is recognized in over 176 countries. To achieve it, an organization has to show its quality management system (QMS) can consistently provide quality products and services that meet applicable regulatory requirements. Organizations also have to improve customer satisfaction through continually improving their effectiveness.

Barry Smith, director of sales at DNV-GL, says that while its accreditation process requires a facility be ISO-compliant, getting the certification is optional. By 2020, the accreditor hopes to see 50 new hospitals receive ISO 9001 certification annually.

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