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Centre to revamp, improve operations at CGHS hospitals

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently entered into a five-year collaboration with the Quality Council of India (QCI) to upgrade the ‘faltering’ Central Government Health Services (CGHS) ecosystem, focusing on a wide range of issues, including regular evaluation and quality monitoring mechanisms
The collaboration will support facilities empanelled under CGHS in achieving accreditation by National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) and National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), to build the capacity of healthcare providers to deliver high quality services.

Highlighting its role in the partnership, Rajesh Maheshwari, Secretary General, QCI, said that the quality control watchdog will be laying the ground for a sustainable system to meet the ever-changing needs of beneficiaries by focusing on quality accreditation, capacity building, and technology integration.

“We have signed a macro-level memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the health ministry to revamp the entire system. The QCI will be looking at everything, from improving operations, efficiency and deliverables to the quality of staffing process in CGHS facilities,” he added.

The partnership will also focus on expanding the network of qualified healthcare providers and laboratories empanelled under CGHS.

The move comes after heightened discussions with regards to standardisation of rates in hospitals across the country. The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to take a call on standard hospital charges, or else they will enforce CGHS rates in all private hospitals.

While the health ministry is set to engage in consultations with various stakeholders over the issue, private hospitals have expressed their concerns.

“Standardisation may compromise the overall quality of healthcare at private facilities, as healthcare costs are determined by various factors, including geographic areas (input costs can be higher in urban settings), doctor’s experience, amenities, infection control measures, and patient safety protocols,” an industry source said.

QCI’s move to provide third party assessment to improve quality standards in CGHS facilities comes after the health ministry had announced mandatory linkage of CGHS beneficiary IDs with Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) ID from April 1.

Experts believe that by integrating these IDs, the government is aiming to streamline healthcare services and enhance patient identification by facilitating seamless sharing of digital health records across platforms.

“A major concern in CGHS is the disparity among different facilities in ensuring the quality of drugs and storage facilities, alongside modernisation of procurement and inventory management systems,” a source close to the development said.

This is where the collaboration will be looking to work at.

While the collaboration may not have anything to do with standardisation of rates as of now, experts believe the move was important to rejuvenate the ‘faltering’ CGHS system.

Addressing the lack of quality standards being followed in certain empanelled facilities, Sunil Rao, Chief Operating Officer, Sahyadri group of hospitals, Pune, said that the CGHS system was in need of an upgrade.

“Many facilities that are empanelled under CGHS did not follow the standard quality parameters with regards to medicines, surgical consumables and other quality products,” he said.

Hospital industry body Nathealth said that the initiative underscores the growing realisation that quality and patient safety are central to any healthcare programme.

The collaboration will ensure that regular evaluation and quality monitoring mechanisms are established.

“Healthcare was not being monitored periodically. But with the QCI coming into the picture as a third party assessor, enforcement of quality standards can continuously be checked through surprise audits and addressing complaints,” Rao said.

The recent announcements by the government on the CGHS, along with the QCI collaboration, will help in creating a centralised health database system. “The move can establish an open and transparent CGHS system, which will be beneficial for both CGHS facilities and beneficiaries,” Rao added. Business Standard

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