The first informal meetings of NCHN began in the late 1980's. Early pioneers would choose a regional location, and meet for a few days to discuss activities of their networks. The five to seven network leaders represented newly organized networks, each unique and a visionary organization in forging a new approach to forming relationships among largely competitive institutions and providers to achieve quality, affordable, and sustainable healthcare, particularly in rural areas.

These meetings were held for several years. At one point the group of network leaders met at the National Rural Health Association conferences. Eventually the group decided it would be useful to create a more formal entity, dedicated just to networks. Initially the organization aligned itself with the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) to assist the founders in the development of network services based on the cooperative model. The first official meeting of NCHN was held in Tempe, Arizona, on December 4, 1995. At this meeting 13 different health network organizations were represented.

Since its incorporation in 1995, NCHN has made significant progress. NCHN has developed into a nationally recognized professional membership organization for all types and sizes of health networks across the nation. Membership programs have been developed, administrative services are provided, and regularly scheduled meetings are held. The first part-time Executive Director was hired in 2004.  Under Julie Arvold, MN, direction, the organization expanded its Business Partners Program. Ms. Arvold served as the Executive Director for approximately 18 months.  In July 2006, Rebecca J. Davis, Ph.D., was hired as the Executive Director and the headquarters were moved to Hardinsburg, KY. 

The Association is comprised of health network organizations across the nation and is governed by an elected volunteer Board of Directors.  Member programs, benefits, and educational offerings are developed and provided by the members through participation on a variety of committees.  Each spring, NCHN provides a two and half-day educational conference for network leaders. In 2011, a one-day Leadership Summit was implemented to focus on the significant role that both the network leader and board assumes in the overall success of the network organization.  Quarterly membership calls are offered, an expanded Business Partners Program, monthly Coffee/Tea Chats, an Executive Coaching Program, and an electronic Weekly Digest of the latest news related to health networks is distributed.  The NCHN staff has expanded from the volunteers that managed the organization in the beginning years, with assistance from Debbie Comeau from Synernet in Maine, one of NCHN’s founding members, to two full-time staff, with offices located in Hardinsburg, KY and Fort Lauderdale FL and a continued contract for administrative support from Synernet.  If you have questions about NCHN’s history and development, please feel free to contact NCHN staff.