Delivering world-class patient-centered healthcare
Traveling outside one’s country for medical care has resulted in a multi-billion dollar global industry that is projected to hit $32.5 billion by next year.
Generally, patients travel to developed countries for medical treatments due to their country’s insufficient healthcare infrastructure. However, in recent years, people residing in larger economies have also begun traveling to lesser developed countries in order to avail of its multi-speciality world-class medical services at a lower cost.
Medical tourism in the Philippines caters to approximately 80,000 to 250,000 patients annually. According to the latest data released by the Department of Tourism, the Department of Health, the Department of Trade and Industry and Board of Investments, 62 hospitals around the country are now internationally accredited.
“The Philippines is now becoming a global medical tourism destination. Aside from our well-trained professionals who can speak English, there have been numerous efforts from the government and private sectors to seriously invest in healthcare and tourism infrastructure, successfully adopting the best practices and state-of-the-art medical technology,” says Dr. Edgardo R. Cortez, President and CEO of St. Luke’s Medical Center.
Dr. Cortez adds that for 114 years, St. Luke’s Medical Center has been a model of excellence in patient care, performing the latest procedures, introducing state-of-the-art equipment, and maintaining a brilliant staff of topnotch experts, compassionate nurses, scientists, and medical students.
Dr. Cortez believes that the purpose of securing accreditations is to provide a thorough and realistic roadmap for improvement, which will help St. Luke’s establish and sustain a culture that strives for excellence.
“We did it in 2003 when St. Luke’s-Quezon City was accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI), the world’s most prestigious accrediting and certification body that works to improve patient safety and quality of health care in the international community. We were the first to be accredited here in the Philippines,” said Dr. Cortez.
After getting re-accredited in 2006, 2009, and 2012, St. Luke’s-Quezon City became the first accredited Academic Medical Center Hospital in the Philippines in 2016. The JCI also awarded the hospital its JCI Clinical Care Program Certification (CCPC) for the Primary Stroke Program awarded in 2014 and 2017.
Just two years after its opening, St. Luke’s-Global City got its first JCI accreditation in 2012 and got re-accredited in 2015. It received its JCI Clinical Care Program Certification (CCPC) for the Primary Stroke Program in 2014 and 2017.
“I am also proud that St. Luke’s-Global City and Quezon City are both certified by Germany-based accrediting organization Temos (Trust. Effective Medicine. Optimized Services.), making St. Luke’s the first in the Philippines to have been awarded certificates for Excellence in Medical Tourism and Quality in International Patient Care,” says Dr. Cortez. Amazingly, St. Luke’s hospitals are two of only 12 hospitals worldwide, recognized as prime medical tourism destinations by Temos.
Temos has been specializing in international patients’ services since 2005 and is the only certification body worldwide assessing and validating the quality of medical service providers regarding their international patients services. In this regard, St. Luke’s-Quezon City has been certified for Quality in International Patient Care in 2010, 2013, and 2016, as well as Certified for Excellence in Medical Tourism in 2013 and 2016. On the other hand, St. Luke’s-Global City was certified for Quality in International Patient Care and for Excellence in Medical Tourism in 2013 and 2016.
St. Luke’s-Global City and Quezon City are also accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) for Breast Ultrasound and Mammography services. St. Luke’s-Global City was recognized as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence after being accredited for its Stereotactic Breast Biopsy Services in July 2014. Both are the only hospitals outside North and South America to receive ACR accreditation which assures patients of the highest quality standards in radiology.
The Cellular Immunology and Molecular Pathology Section of St. Luke’s-Quezon City’s Institute of Pathology is the only facility outside North America and Dominican Republic to achieve the honor of AABB Relationship Testing Accreditation. The AABB was established in 1947 as a national association of hospital and community blood banks, transfusion services, and other immunohematologic services; to improve blood collection and distribution; and to foster high standards of administrative and technical performance in the general field of immunohematology.
St. Luke’s-Global City and Quezon City have also been cited as two of only 20 “Best Hospitals Worldwide for 2014” and “Preferred Partner Hospital for 2016” by the Diplomatic Council of Europe, a non-governmental Think Tank organization that adheres to the principles of the charter of the United Nations. The Diplomatic Council, based in The Hague, The Netherlands, awards top medical facilities around the world to help promote medical tourism and assure the safety and comfort of medical tourists.
St. Luke’s has been awarded the Gold Trusted Brand Award in the Hospital Category in 2007. In addition, it received the Platinum Trusted Brand Award in the Hospital Category from Reader’s Digest in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.
In 2016, St. Luke’s Medical Center was the first hospital in the Philippines to be granted the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification by SGS Philippines, Inc., the country’s leading provider in certification, testing, verification and inspection. A HACCP Certification signifies that the hospital provides patients with the highest standard of safe and healthy food.
“Perhaps among the awards we value the most is that St. Luke’s Medical Center is the first hospital in the world to be awarded a Gold Certification by Investors in People (IiP), according to its Sixth Generation Standard. Since 1991 Investors in People has set the standard for better people management. Its internationally recognized accreditation is held by 14,000 organizations across the world,” describes Dr. Cortez.
A successful accreditation in accordance with the IiP Standard is the sign of a great employer, an outperforming workplace, and a clear commitment to sustainability. With the IiP accreditation, St. Luke’s joins a community of over 14,000 organizations across 75 countries worldwide.
Among the most recent achievements of St Luke’s is its inclusion to the Mayo Clinic Care Network. As a member, St. Luke’s has the opportunity to consult on operational and business processes, and the ability to access the Mayo Clinic library of patient education materials and archived grand rounds that feature presentations by Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists.
St. Luke’s is the first hospital in the Philippines and the fourth outside the United States to become a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network. The 153-year-old Mayo Clinic—currently ranked No. 1 in the US—is a non-profit medical organization with major campuses located in Rochester, Minnesota; Scottsdale and Phoenix in Arizona; and Jacksonville, Florida.
Aside from its partnership with the Mayo Clinic Care Network, several Institutes within the hospital have collaborative efforts with major academic institutions in the United States and Asia.
“Indeed, with all these international collaborations and partnerships, St. Luke’s is able to share medical knowledge, have additional access to some of the world’s leading medical experts leverage this relationship so that all these wealth of resources can be offered to our patients, whether here or coming from abroad, to further enhance the quality patient care we provide,” assures Dr. Cortez.
Great Patient Experience
“We can’t deny patients asking for more. It starts with providing them with a healing environment and amenities that will remind them of us the next time they require medical services. This is our real commitment,” says Dr. Cortez.
Ms. Emma A. Yuhico, St. Luke’s Medical Center VP and Head of Patient Experience Group, agrees: “As it is, patients already suffer unavoidably from an illness. This is further aggravated by the psychological, emotional, and financial distress once they step into a hospital. Here at St. Luke’s, we find ways to lessen this by not inflicting them with avoidable suffering brought about by plain detached or indifferent service devoid of empathy or compassion, bad quality service, unsafe medical care, and unexplainable costs.”
Dr. Cortez informs that St. Luke’s has partnered with international healthcare consulting firm Press Ganey to provide patient satisfaction surveys that help the organizations drive targeted and sustainable improvement across the continuum of care.
Press Ganey’s surveys help to quickly identify and address the issues in service and communication that may cause patients to feel discomfort or distress, which increases their suffering and results in a less than ideal health care experience. “There’s also the possibility for us to benchmark the score we will get with other hospitals, both locally and internationally,” reports Dr. Cortez.
“The Filipino brand of healthcare has come of age. The Filipino doctors and nurses are among the best in the world. As we work our way in the medical tourism arena, we should leverage on the presence of 10 million Filipinos all over the world as our brand ambassadors,” says Ms. Jo C. Aguilar, SVP and Head for Marketing Group and Industry Relations.
By: Charles E. Buban