While the nation's rural hospitals are facing a tough future serving a shrinking patient population with pinched reimbursements, Cherokee Nation Health is thriving, according to a new white paper by Cherokee Nation Health's accrediting body, DNV GL Healthcare.
The system, which includes the W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Okla., was compacted by the Cherokee Nation from the Indian Health Service in 2008, making it the largest tribally-owned healthcare system in the United States. It has more than 1.2 million patient encounters annually.
Rural hospitals and healthcare systems are often in a precarious position in the United States. According to the National Rural Health Association, 70 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, while another 673 hospitals – one in three – are considered financially vulnerable or at risk for closure.
A new white paper by Cherokee Nation Health's accrediting body, DNV GL Healthcare, details how the system has significantly upped the quality of its healthcare delivery. It did so in part by leveraging ISO 9001, a quality system originally created by the manufacturing sector that DNV GL adapted for hospitals and healthcare systems.
"We gave up an old way of doing accreditation, from checking a box to meet standards, to truly providing safe patient care," said Ginger Glory RN, Cherokee Nation Health's Director of Quality Management.
With the help of ISO 9001, Cherokee Nation Health has been able to dramatically cut down its wait times for patient appointments, create a successful initiative to quickly identify and treat patients with hepatitis C, and is now embarking on an ambitious plan to expand the Cherokee Nation Health campus and the services it provides.
The white paper is available from the DNV GL website and may be downloaded here.
As the nation's second-largest healthcare accreditation body, Anders Lindgren, DNV GL Business Assurance North American Regional Manager, cites its "kinder and gentler" approach and its year-round partnership strategy as some of the keys to successfully accrediting hospitals and boosting quality improvement at a rate of 20% growth year over year. The majority of hospitals choose accreditation in order to be certified by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to receive federal funds and reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid programs.
Hundreds of hospitals across the United States have switched to DNV GL Healthcare over the past decade. The organization accredits nearly 500 hospitals in 49 states.