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DOT boosts medical tourism efforts with the release of updated accreditation guidelines for dental clinics

5 min read
DOT boosts medical tourism efforts with the release of updated accreditation guidelines for dental clinics

Updated Accreditation Guidelines for Dental Clinics: Strengthening Quality in Medical Tourism

Manila, PhilippinesAs the Philippines continues to gain global attention in medical tourism, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has recently released its updated rules and regulations that seek to strengthen the accreditation of dental clinics.

At the onset of her leadership, DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco reaffirmed the DOT’s support for President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s administration’s goal to boost the medical tourism industry in the country by leveraging a robust collaborative approach with stakeholders in aesthetics, aging, and wellness, institutionalizing regulation of this niche market as a “strong growth center” for the country.

Accreditation Guidelines for Dental Clinics Boosting Medical Tourism Efforts in PH
Accreditation Guidelines for Dental Clinics Boosting Medical Tourism Efforts in PH

DOT Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2024-0001 by Secretary Frasco identifies dental tourism as a “high-value tourism product worthy of investment and promotion” under the DOT’s Health and Wellness Program and with the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) 2023-2028, the country’s tourism roadmap, recognizing Health and Wellness as one of its niche market portfolios that highlights the long history of the Philippines as a center of medical expertise with its strong foundation in Western medicine, as well as its traditional Filipino healing practices.

Speaking at the Philippine Dental Association’s Luzon Area Convention Plus held recently at the Philippine International Convention Center, the Tourism Chief rallied support from dental professionals in the DOT’s latest endeavor. “There are many reasons to love the Philippines. And I am here today to explore with serious consideration, adding to those reasons by aggressively pursuing, in partnership with all of you, the full maximization of dental tourism for the Philippines pursuant to our President’s vision for the Philippines to be a premier dental destination in the world,” Secretary Frasco said.

“I am but one of the millions of Filipinos and our friends from all over the world who have benefited from the care, professionalism, and expertise of our dentists, dental hygienists, and dental technologists who have shown nothing less than excellence, making us so proud of your profession. The Philippines is renowned for its rich natural landscapes, being one of the most megadiverse countries in the world. Not only that, we have as well a culture and heritage, diverse identities across our regions that make up the social fabric and the story that is the Filipino,” she added, elaborating how the world-class Filipino brand of service from dental professionals plus award-winning destinations can be a perfect combination in packaging the country as an attractive tourism destination.

According to Global Wellness Institute Top Line data for the Philippines from 2019 to 2022, the country ranked #8 in the Wellness Economy regional ranking and 20th in the Wellness Economy Global ranking. A 2019 study also identified the Philippines is ranked seventh among countries that provide low-cost dental procedures worldwide.

The 12-page memorandum spells out updated accreditation rules, application process, documentary requirements for the voluntary accreditation, schedule of fees and charges, supervision of accredited clinics, denial, cancellation, and suspension or revocation of accreditation.

Based on the rules and regulations, dental clinics applying for accreditation for Dental Tourism must meet the following minimum requirements set for secondary tourism enterprises:

  • The clinic must be clean and at a safe and secure location with natural ventilation to comfort patients and staff. It should also bear visible name signage, with a clean and functional restroom conveniently accessible. A clinic concierge shall also provide in-house medical services for at least four of the following dental procedures, including cosmetic dentistry, dental implantology, orthodontics, endodontics, and prosthodontics.
  • The reception area must be manned by clinic personnel, with sufficient lighting, seating facilities, internet access, IEC, and other entertainment materials and equipment.
  • Tourist information or electronic access to the Philippines Travel App must also be made available at the reception area and for drinking water, coffee, or tea amenities.
  • Dental facilities like treatment areas, instruments, and equipment, as well as emergency care and personnel, must be present, showing valid credentials within the premises, accept different modes of payment, and have an official email and website or social media containing clinic profile, operation hours, services offered, dental tour packages, online appointment system, online consultation, and online review and customer feedback.

Prior to issuance of the Certificate of Accreditation, DOT accreditation officers shall evaluate the application and conduct an ocular inspection of the facilities, services, and amenities of the dental clinic applying for accreditation to determine conformity with the minimum standards set by the Department.

This list of guidelines principally aims to reinforce the DOT’s regulatory power to a “national standard for licensing, accreditation and classification of tourism enterprises, prescribing therein minimum levels of operating quality and efficiency for their operation in accordance with recognized international standards, impose reasonable penalties for violation of accreditation policies.”

“Accreditation ensures quality, safety, and [the] adherence to international standards, fostering trust among both local and international patients. Not only that, [accreditation] assures your clients that there is a stamp of approval and confidence from your very own government,” Secretary spoke on the importance of institutionalizing the accreditation of dental clinics for medical tourism.

According to the DOT chief, the heart of this set of rules and regulations lies “the central focus on the patient experience, encompassing every touch point, from inquiry, to consultation proper, up to post-operative care and recovery—the complete Philippine medical tourism experience.”

Also defined in the DOT MC No. 2024-0001 are Dental Tour Packages, which shall offer various dental procedures and other services such as, but not limited to hotel lodging, transportation, sightseeing, and other leisure activities.

This personalized dental tourism package, which gives so much attention to overall patient care, has placed the Philippines as an attractive go-to destination for various medical procedures, offering highly skilled medical professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordable healthcare services.

Meanwhile, application for DOT accreditation of dental clinics for Dental Tourism shall be voluntary and may be coursed through the DOT Online Accreditation system along with the submission of the following documentary requirements:

  • Valid business/ Mayor’s permit
  • List of dentist/s with PRC registration number validity
  • Proof of ownership of autoclave and dental x-ray
  • Copy of Preventive Maintenance Report from the Supplier of the maintenance of the autoclave and dental x-ray
  • Certificate of membership with PDA
  • Copy of DOH license for clinics with laboratories
  • Customer Service Training Certificate for reception personnel upon renewal of accreditation

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