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NCHN enews
  NCHN e-News | Issue 8 | December 22, 2009 enews monthly

Happy Holidays from NCHN
From the NCHN Board NCHN Member NewsUpcoming events
in the spotlight
Monthly News Recap
What's Missing? News from your Network!
From the NCHN Board

2009 in Review: NCHN Achievements

The NCHN Board of Directors and NCHN staff wanted to provide you with a review of some of the major achievements of the Association for 2009:

  • NCHN membership has increased to sixty-five (65) network members; one (1) individual member; and 12 Business Partners. Four new members have joined in the past 20 days! Read about the new members below
  • The Board of Directors held two face-to-face meeting this year and have a third planned for the end of January 2010.
  • The Executive Committee met by Conference Call six (6) times.
  • NCHN committee memberships have expanded and been active throughout 2009, with most of them meeting on a monthly basis:
    • 2010 Conference Planning Committee - 11 members;
    • Program Development Committee - 6 members;
    • Regional Meeting Committee - 6 members;
    • Certification Program Development Committee - 6 members. 
  • The NTRmeeting program has been implemented for all committee calls, allowing members to be connected visually.
  • NCHN partnered with other national rural health professional membership organizations for the National Rural Health Association’s Annual Policy Institute which was held January 26-28, 2009 in Washington, DC. NCHN will also be a partner on the 21st Annual NRHA Policy Institute which will be held January 25-27, 2010 in Washington, DC.
  • 15th NCHN Annual Conference was held in April in Charleston, SC and approximately 90 individuals participated.
  • The NCHN Awards Program was implemented and the first awardees were recognized and honored at the 2009 Annual Conference.
  • 2009 Regional Meetings were held in Minneapolis and Albuquerque -- both were deemed a success by the sixty (60) plus members and guests that participated in the two one-day Health Information Technology focus meeting at each location.
  • A number of NCHN members presented workshops at the ORHP Grantee Partners Meeting in September in Washington, DC.
  • The NCHN Executive Coaching Program continues -- Coaches and/or Coachees met together at the Annual Conference.
  • The 2009 Quarterly Membership Calls were well received by members and guests:
    • How Health Networks Assist Their Members in Dealing with the Current Economic Challenges - 26 participants;
    • Managing the Risk of the Uninsured/Underinsured & Reducing Uncompensated Care Costs - 35 participants;
    • Stimulus Funding Opportunities - 53 participants; and
    • LEAN Programs Implemented by NCHN Members - 23 participants.
  • In addition to the regularly scheduled Quarterly Membership Calls, four (4) special interest call were provided:
    • Bullet Proofing Your Policies and Procedure, offered by PolicyTech, a Gold Level Business Partner - 19 participants;
    • Introduction to Paradigm Learning, a Silver Level Business Partner - 6 participants;
    • Return on Investment (ROI) - 31 participants; and
    • CMS - Recovery Audit Contract Program - 93 participants.
  • Through December 15, 2009, approximately sixty (60) member questions have been posted to the NCHN List Serve from members and Network Planning and Development Grantees working with the folks at the Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC). A large number of documents and samples have been shared among members.
  • In August, GHPC expanded its contract with NCHN to include the development and delivery of the Technical Assistance calls for the HRSA Grantees in both the Network Planning and Network Development Programs. The first call was delivered on October 28 and was a discussion with experienced network directors on the benefits of establishing a formalized network structure. Three additional calls will be held through July 2010. NCHN members are invited to participate on the calls, as both presenters and/or participants. The next call will be on January 20, 2010 - 2:00 PM ET on “Network Membership Development” --- How do you recruit and retain active, participating members to your network? Membership recruitment and retention will be discussed, along with how to structure membership dues, and financial reporting strategies to document the network members’ ROI (return on investment).
  • Three (3) new Business Partners have been added to the NCHN Business Partner Program. The new partners are:
    • Medical Recovery Services, Gold Level Partner,
    • PMI, Gold Level Partner, and
    • Paradigm Learning, Silver Level Partner
  • Business Partners that renewed their contract for 2009 included:
    • CareerStaff Unlimited, Silver Level Partner
    • Fukuda Denshi, Gold Level Partner
    • Healthcare Management, Member Partner
    • Hylant Group, Silver Level Partner
    • MedAssets, Silver Level Partner
    • PolicyTech, Gold Level Partner
    • ThermoFisher Scientific. Gold Level Partner
    • Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, Silver Level Partner, and
    • Wipfli, Silver Level Partner  

If you have not accessed the programs or services available through the Business Partner program, we encourage you to do so during 2010! 

  • A partnership was developed with GrantStation and to date over 80 members and member affiliates have enrolled in the program.
  • A Referral Agreement was implemented with NTRglobal for their Meeting program. NCHN members and member affiliates are eligible to participate in the NTRmeeting program at a significant savings. Negotiations are underway to add both NTRsupport and NTRconnect to the referral agreement. These two new programs will be available to members in early 2010.
  • An additional seven (7) NCHN Success Stories were added to the Rural Assistance Center website, bringing the total NCHN posted stories to 26.  The Success Stories can be accessed here.
  • “NCHN eNews!” - The Association’s electronic newsletter was developed and implemented -- six (6) issues have been distributed.
  • The NCHN website was redesigned and updated.
  • NCHN has employed Christy Sullenberger as a part-time staff person.
  • NCHN announced its plans to develop a Network Leader Certification Program.
  • The Certification Program Development Committee designed a job analysis for the network director position. This survey is the first major step towards achieving NCHN’s goal of establishing a certification program for Network Leaders. If you have not completed this job analysis survey, please contact Rebecca for details on how you can be a part of this exciting new program!
  • NCHN established a new corporation, Rural Health Network Resources, LLC, which received a contract from ORHP for support of the Network Planning Grantees Program.
  • The partnership with the National Rural Health Association was continued and in September, NCHN was awarded a significant increase in funding as part of a large cooperative agreement. The funds will be utilized to support and expand NCHN educational programming over the next five years.

NCHN Board of Directors and staff encourage NCHN members to take advantage of their membership benefits in 2010.

Check out your Business Partners and make contact with them to learn more about their services and how they can help you and your network; sign up to be a coach in the Executive Coaching Program, or if you need a sounding board for one of your projects or some encouragement during the year, sign up to be coached by one of NCHN’s experienced members; serve your Association by volunteering to serve on a committee; mark your calendar and plan to attend the 16th Annual Conference in April -- the best place to connect with your peers and recharge your batteries!  If you have any questions about your membership benefits, give Rebecca a call and she will be glad to discuss them with you.  We look forward to serving you in 2010! 

RSVP: 2010 NCHN Member Survey

NCHN will be conducting a comprehensive membership survey and needs assessment in early 2010.  Members will receive information about the survey in mid-January.  Please watch your mail boxes! 

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in the Spotlight
NCHN regrets to announce that Wipfli has decided to end their partnership with us at the end of the year. Tina Sundly, Health Care Strategic Alignment Manager, with Wipfli, LLC made the following statement about the decision, “It is with regret that we inform you of our intent to cancel our business partner arrangement with NCHN effective December 31, 2009. We have enjoyed many years of collaboration and have truly enjoyed the relationships we have built with network directors and the NCHN staff. I will personally miss the annual meetings and especially the friendships and good times we had. As we discussed, we would still like to offer our services to NCHN and its members as needs arise in the future. If we can be of assistance in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you for the opportunity to have been connected with such a vibrant group of leaders in the health care industry!”

We encourage members to take a look at Wipfli’s service outlined below and if you have a need for any of the services or you think your members may be interested in any of the many outstanding services, please contact Tina today to discuss.

NCHN wishes Tina and Wipfli the best and thanks them for their support over the past five years!

Business Experts. Right from the Start.

Experience On Your Side
Experienced health care advisors are the ones that make a difference. Your business questions involve more than accounting and taxes. That is why, with Wipfli, you get more than certified public accountants to help you define and solve your needs.

Since 1931, Wipfli LLP has been helping health care organizations find their way to success.  From across the country, our 1,000+ health care clients know they can count on our expertise client-centered approach to address their most difficult problems. Using our full-service, team-based approach, we will help you bring your facility to the next level through a variety of specialized services tailored to meet your unique needs.

Our dedicated health care staff has an average of 20 years of experience working with health care organizations of all sizes and types.  Our experience includes working with large community hospitals, critical access and rural hospitals, medical practices, home health agencies, long-term care facilities, and dental practices. Our experience includes the following:

  • Strategic Advisory
  • Governance & Leadership
  • Hospital/Physician Relations
  • Strategic Planning
  • Performance Improvement:
  • People
  • Process
  • Technology
  • Reimbursement
  • Revenue Cycle Improvement
  • Reimbursement
  • Financial Services
  • Audit
  • Business Valuations
  • Financial Feasibility Studies
  • Internal Audit
  • Tax

Our team of health care professionals takes pride in their ability to offer personalized service to help you meet your organization’s goals.

For more information contact Sylvia Weise
Phone:  (715) 858-6631

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NCHN Member News

NCHN Welcomes 4 New Members

Heartland Health Alliance is located in Holbrook, Nebraska and was established in 1994. The mission of the Heartland Health Alliance is to enhance the quality, availability and cost effectiveness of rural health care while providing access to a comprehensive spectrum of services through a regional integrated delivery system. The Alliance’s stated purpose is to promote a strong regionally focused integrated health network that provides comprehensive health care in and for local communities; strive to balance the needs and retain the autonomy of the individual members while maintaining the goals of the network as a whole; and create innovative approaches to effectively improve the health status of the network’s communities.

The Alliance has the following programs in place:

  • Clinical and business-related roundtables and task forces
  • Educational programs- e.g., BLS, ACLS and Quality Improvement
  • Centralized credentialing
  • Corporate compliance education
  • Mobile services - (breast stereotactic)
  • Information systems assistance
  • Diabetes education certification program
  • Interactive video and telehealth programs, and
  • Managed care review and consultation

The Alliance has 39 members located in Nebraska and Kansas.  Ken Foster is the Alliance’s Director and can be reached at
Heartland Health Alliance is a former member of NCHN and we are glad to have them as a returning member of the Association.

Klamath Health Partnership is located in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Partnership’s mission is to serve their community by offering excellent care and eliminating barriers to health care.  The Partnership is in the developmental stages and is a current HRSA Network Planning Grantee. Bob Marsalli is serving as the Director and can be reached at

Kleberg Rural Health Network is located in Kingsville, Texas and was established this year. Dr. Carlos A. Garcia is the network director.  The network was formed to develop a Health Information Exchange and assist with the implementation of Electronic Medical Records for the six member organizations located in Corpus Christi and Kingsville, TX.  Carlos attended the NCHN Albuquerque Regional Meeting this fall.  He can be reached at

Northeast Minnesota Interprofessional Health Network is located in Hibbing, Minnesota.  The network was established in 2008. The mission of the new organization is “to improve community health through expanding collaboration among communities, health care, and academic entities.”  The network includes six organizations and is comprised of hospitals, clinics, academic institutions, and physician groups. Brendan L. Ashby, MBA, MPH, CHES, FACHE, is the Network Director.  Brendan attended our annual conference in Charleston this spring. Brendan can be reached at 

NCHN’s Board of Directors and staff welcome the four new members and looks forward to working with them in 2010! 

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Upcoming Events

NRHA Policy Institute

Health care change is coming.
Join us where it starts.

National Cooperative of Health Networks Association (NCHN) with the National Rural Health Association invites you to the 21st Annual Rural Health Policy Institute, which will be held January 25-27, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

You can’t afford to miss this chance to meet with key members of Congress and the Obama Administration to learn how you will be impacted by legislation and to ensure health reform works.

Arrive on January 24 to gain valuable tips to be a successful health care advocate.

2010 NRHA Policy Institute Links
>> 2010 Sponsorship Opportunities
>> Conference Registration form (pdf)
>> Early Registration Discount: Click here to register online by Jan. 8 and save $100.

Takin' HIT to the Streets

January 15, 2010 • Chicago, IL • Free Registration to qualifying organizations

Maximize Your ARRA Funding with Informed Buying Decisions

The focus is soon shifting from ARRA funding qualification…to researching the best possible technology solutions…with the best possible return on that investment.

That’s why HIMSS has developed a one-day conference where you can explore product and service solutions – while sharing relevant experiences with your peers – and gain invaluable knowledge in anticipation of this growing need.

HIMSS will be bringing The ARRA Era tour to Dallas and Chicago with a full range of learning opportunities in preparation for making an informed buying decision.

So whether you’re looking for a solution…or providing one – The ARRA Era is the place to get informed and get connected!

For more information and to register, go to

NCHN Special Interest Call - “Strategic Planning Models for Health Networks”

January 18, 2010 - 12:30 PM ET: “Strategic Planning Models for Health Networks” - NCHN members will share strategic planning models they have recently used to help focus the work of their networks and plan for the future.

GHPC/NCHN Technical Assistance Call for Network Planning and Network Development Grantees and NCHN Members

January 20, 2010 - 2:00 PM ET: “Network Membership Development” - How do you recruit and retain active, participating members to your network? Membership recruitment and retention will be discussed, along with how to structure membership dues, and financial reporting strategies to prove the members’ ROI (return on investment). NCHN members are also invited to participate on this call.

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Monthly News Recap

Leapfrog Adds a New Efficiency Standard to Its Quality Criteria for Top Hospitals and Introduces a Category for Top Rural Hospitals

WASHINGTON, December 3, 2009 – While Congress debates whether health care reform would control health care costs, today employer purchasers point to 45 hospitals that lead through example—delivering the best quality care in the nation while attaining the highest levels of efficiency. Thirty-four urban, eight children’s and three rural hospitals have been named 2009 Leapfrog Top Hospitals, based on results from The Leapfrog Hospital Survey. The survey (found at is the only national, public comparison of hospitals on key issues including mortality rates for certain common procedures, infection rates, safety practices, and measures of efficiency.

Qualifying criteria for Leapfrog’s Top Hospital Award list remain virtually the same as 2008, with one added dimension: once hospitals demonstrate top quality, they must also rise to the top of the list on efficiency. 

“This year’s class of Top Hospitals not only hits the mark in areas such as medication error prevention and preventing ICU deaths, but they also use their resources wisely, providing excellent and efficient outcomes for patients,” said Leah Binder, CEO, The Leapfrog Group. “Regardless of what happens to health care reform, these hospitals are the future.”

New this year, Leapfrog recognizes a new category: Top Rural Hospitals. The award winners in 2009 scored in the top decile nationally for efficiency and are located in Georgia and Maine:

  • Polk Medical Center; Cedartown GA
  • Stephens Memorial Hospital; Norway ME
  • Waldo County General Hospital; Belfast ME

Geography of Unemployment 2007 - 2009: Animated Map

Unemployment MapAccording to the U/S/ Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 31 million people currently unemployed - that's including those involuntarily working part-time and those who want a job, but have given up on trying to find one. In the face of the worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression, millions of Americans are hurting. The interactive map serves as a vivid represetation of just how much. Watch the deteriorating transformation of the U.S. economy from January 2007 - approximately one year before the start of the recession - through [October 2009].

Source: Map developed by Latoya Egwuekwe; Data provided by Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

2 New Funding Opportunities from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

Community College Consortia to Educate Health Information Technology Professionals Objective:
This program makes available $70 million in grants to help develop and strengthen the health information technology (health IT) community by rapidly creating health IT education and training programs at community colleges or expand existing programs. Community colleges funded under this initiative will establish intensive, non-degree training programs that can be completed in six months or less.
Application Deadline: January 22, 2010

Curriculum Development Centers Objective:
This grant opportunity will provide $10 million in grants to institutions of higher education (or consortia thereof) to support health information technology curriculum development. Up to 5 grant awards will support curriculum development to enhance programs of workforce training primarily at the community college level.
Application Deadline: January 14, 2010

For more information, visit HITECH Funding Opportunities

HHS Announces New HIT Grant Program

December 3, 2009 - The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) announced yesterday the creation of the Beacon Community Program, which will provide $235 million in grants for HIT incentive payments to eligible providers.  The ONC will begin accepting letters of intent to apply for the program, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), immediately.  The deadline for this set at January 8, 2010, and actual grant applications are due on February 1, 2010.  Awards will be announced in March, with the program's official start set for April of 2010.

Awards will be made in the form of cooperative agreements to approximately 15 qualified non-profit organizations or government entities representing geographic health care communities, and eligible entities must be a US-based non-profit organization or a government entity falling into one of the following five categories:

  1. State, local, tribal, or territorial government entity with a public health focus
  2. Integrated delivery network or health system with broad community partnerships
  3. Independent physician association or consortium of medical groups
  4. Public/private partnership aimed at health system improvement and/or community health improvement
  5. ONC-funded regional extension center with the capacity to expand its services

For purposes of this cooperative agreement, stakeholders include, but are not limited to, primary care providers (PCPs), practicing clinicians, hospitals, public and private payers, consumers, local and state public health departments, safety net providers, employers, academic institutions, charitable foundations, industry, laboratories, pharmacies, employers, quality improvement organizations, hospital associations, government entities, and medical societies.  Proof of non-profit status is required for all non-profit applicants.

All sentiments aside regarding the negative structure in which the ARRA HIT incentives affect rural providers, this grant announcement is a step in the right direction to adopting systematic HIT and EHR.

For the full grant opportunity announcement and instructions, please click here

For more information on other ARRA HIT grant opportunities and general updates, please visit

From Quality Matters: A bimonthly report on health care quality improvement

November/December 2009

In Focus: Improving the Quality of Rural Health Care Through Collaboration
A number of academic medical centers are using collaborative care models and distance learning programs to broaden the scope and improve the quality of health care services in rural communities. While varied in structure, many of these programs seek to expand the knowledge of local providers and enhance the linkages between urban and rural medical centers, in hopes of reducing disparities in care between the rural and urban populations they serve.

Case Study: Project ECHO Expands Access to Specialty Care for Rural Patients
An innovative project in New Mexico uses telemedicine, case-based learning, and disease management techniques to expand access to care for patients with hepatitis C and other chronic, complex conditions. Specialty providers based at the University of New Mexico help guide rural community providers in applying best practices to manage care. The community providers build their knowledge of particular conditions and serve as expert consultants in their regions.

RUPRI: Reform Proposals Would Cover 93 Percent of Rural America

As Congress continues to analyze and debate key details of health reform, the numbers of people covered under the current plans is receiving increased attention. According to a new analysis by the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), if fully implemented, the approach to covering the uninsured presented in H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Coverage Act, would reduce the number of uninsured from 8.1 to 3.2 million in rural areas. This increase in coverage would lead to a slightly higher coverage rate for people living in rural areas than for their urban counterparts (93.4% compared to 92.7%), largely because a lower proportion of rural persons are non-citizens who would not be covered under any of the proposed reform approaches but also because the reform proposal reaches more low-income persons who are more represented among the rural uninsured.

The report also provides state-by-state estimates of the effects of the legislation on overall health insurance coverage rates (for both rural and urban persons), as well as estimates of how the previously uninsured would be covered under the provisions of the legislation.

Read the brief...

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What's Missing? News from your Network!