IQMH is a signatory (ISO 15189) to the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and its regional Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC). ISO 15189 Plus™ certificates granted under this MRA are recognized world-wide. They provide recognition of competence and underscore the facility’s experience, superior technical competence and reliability. Our signatory status with the APAC MRA is a working arrangement that assists the facilitation of international trade and acceptance of testing results. IQMH accreditation is recognized by ILAC’s 90 signatories in 87 countries. IQMH is pleased to share an article by an IQMH accreditation assessor on the enriching experience conducting an accreditation assessment with an international client.
By Lindsay Furlong, MLT, IQMH Assessor
William Osler Health System
“Slow down, calm down, don’t worry, don’t hurry, trust the process.”
- Alexandra Stoddard
This quote by Alexandra Stoddard was the living embodiment of the laboratory management and staff at the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Their process to accreditation was a few years in the making, and they showed great patience working through each step with guidance from the CDC team and IQMH. Their full dedication to “Trusting the process” got them to their endpoint – ISO 15189 Accreditation. Congratulations NIPH! Your hard work and dedication have paid off!
My time participating in the ISO 15189 accreditation at the NIPH was one of the most enriching experiences of my career as a Medical Laboratory Technologist/ IQMH Assessor. I was both humbled and proud to be a part of the IQMH team that lived out the IQMH vision of bringing a new Standard for Confidence, within the international medical diagnostic testing community by bringing accreditation and education to the NIPH.
From the moment the IQMH team arrived in Phnom Penh, it was evident that the staff were very excited to have us there and were very much looking forward to their facility’s accreditation assessment. When we go on assessments in Ontario where accreditation is mandated, we are often met with anxiety, and the overall feeling of “We just want this to be over.” At the NIPH, it was the exact opposite. This could be attributed to the fact that the NIPH voluntarily contracted IQMH to carry out the audit of their facility. As stressful as external audits are for everyone, the NIPH staff, both management and bench technologists, were looking forward to the culmination of their years of hard work and finally being able to say they were getting their ISO 15189 Plus™ Accreditation.
In the days leading up to the visit, one of our concerns was the potential language barrier. The management team spoke English; but at the bench, the technologists’ understanding of English was limited. We knew we were going to have interpreters provided, but couldn’t fully comprehend what difficulties might lay before us. The first morning was a bit more complicated than we’re used to when assessing at home in Ontario, but within a few hours, we all adjusted and were able to start moving through the IQMH Accreditation Requirements quite quickly. The biggest hurdle I encountered was being able to explain a concept or give an example of what I was looking for without using Canadian “slang.” Until you’re trying to communicate with someone in a completely different language, you don’t realize how many terms you use that are specific to your language.
It was apparent that throughout the whole process, NIPH staff were very open and accepting of our explanations of why they didn’t meet a specific requirement. Their team as a whole was thirsty for the knowledge we brought to them, and they were looking forward to furthering their understanding of the requirements and continuing on their path to excellence.
Being an integral part of the NIPH’s drive toward continual improvement has been a wonderful learning experience for me as well. In my quest to convey an example of an idea in a way they could truly understand, I deepened my knowledge of the requirements. Being forced to look at things from another point of view allowed me to really expand my way of thinking and I believe that this has not only made me a better assessor but a better technologist as well.
I have enjoyed my time so far being an IQMH assessor, but being a part of the assessment in Cambodia has taken the experience beyond any of my expectations. I hope that IQMH continues on this international quest with the CDC to bring accreditation, education and excellence beyond our borders. To all the IQMH Accreditation Assessors, if you are given the opportunity to participate in an international assessment, do it! The professional growth you will experience will be more than worth it. I can only hope that I get to participate in bringing the IQMH Accreditation process to another facility in the future.
Left to right: Lindsay Furlong, Linda Diebold, Aisha Ismail, Mark Evert. All gowned up to visit the laboratory.
Tour of the facility
Assessing the laboratory
Behind the group is a miniature version of Angkor Wat (translated from Khmer means “City Temple”), which is located in Siem Reap spread over 400 acres and said to be the largest religious monument in the world .This miniature version is found at the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh.
"Thank you so much" with finger hearts
Accreditation assessors with the team from the National Institute of Public Health.