VietNamNet Bridge – Some 448 million medical tests are done in the country each year, but only a third of the country’s health facilities subject their tests to external quality assessments (EQAs).


Doctors at Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital in HCM City conduct medical tests at the hospital’s laboratory.— Photo: VNA/VNS



At a recent seminar on medical testing control organised by the Ministry of Health, a report said that of the 448 million tests, around 90 million are done by hospitals managed directly by the ministry and 240 million are done by hospitals at provincial level.

Yet Ta Thanh Van, vice rector of the Ha Noi Medical University, and director of the Centre for Medical Testing Quality Control, said just one third of health facilities in the country bothered to utilise external quality assessments (EQA), an important independent monitoring tool.

Van said one of the factors behind the reluctance to have medical tests independently assessed could be the cost. Each laboratory would have to spend around VND 200 million (US$8,800) each year for EQAs, he said.

“This amount can be a burden for most facilities, especially those at lower levels or in remote areas where the number of patients are less than in big centres,” Van said.

He also said improved quality can be seen at health centres that use EQAs.

“Problems with human resources or equipment have been addressed at these facilities. Thus the quality of their service has improved,” he said, adding that private health facilities were more likely than their public counterparts to conduct EQAs.

Future plans

Nguyen Trong Khoa, deputy head of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment Department, said the Health Ministry was working on the number and quality of laboratories nationwide and would make public a list of localities with low EQA rates.

The ministry would also try to ensure that by 2018, all medical tests by certain laboratories can be connected and accessed by others in the group. By 2025, this information sharing should happen nationwide.

The ministry thus has asked all hospitals and laboratories to make plans to upgrade their facilities and human resources. Regulations on mutual recognition of medical test results will be issued.

“We will propose to the Ministry of Finance that medical test costs are fixed in accordance with the quality of care provided by the health facility. This is not the situation today,” Khoa said.

The country now has 48 laboratories recognised as meeting the ISO 15189:2012 standard, which specifies requirements for quality and competence in medical laboratories.

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