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Hospital Consortium changes name, revises charter to focus on quality of care

by Dr. Susan Karol, Chief Medical Officer, Indian Health Service

At the Indian Health Service, improving the quality of care and governance of our federal hospitals is critical for our patients. Quality care reduces disparities and promises a future that assures excellence for our patients across the IHS delivery system.

The Indian Health Service Hospital Consortium is now referred to as the Quality Consortium, emphasizing its role in quality improvement and removing the reference to only include hospitals. Also part of the name change is the revision of Consortium’s charter to better represent its current structure and function.

The work of the Quality Consortium is some of the most vital work of the Indian Health Service. Our patients rely on us to provide them with the highest quality care, the same as they would receive at the best hospitals in the country. After all, our patients are our first priority.

The Quality Consortium’s Executive Council comprised of the Director of the Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, Area Directors, Area Chief Medical Officers and quality improvement and safely staff, agreed to broaden the scope of the Consortium’s improvement work to include all IHS hospitals, IHS free-standing ambulatory care facilities and IHS Youth Regional Treatment Centers.

The Executive Council also outlined specific functions that the Consortium oversees, including:

  • Prioritizing quality improvement activities across the domains of care delivery, support functions, management and administration;
  • Coordination of improvement activities as system of care;
  • Enhancing the function of governing boards;
  • Promoting effective training programs focused on competency development and quality performance standards;
  • Providing consultative services to Areas and facilities for quality improvement;
  • Recommending standardized quality processes and procedures across the IHS health care system; and
  • Identifying or developing quality measures, performance criteria and strategies to support facilities in achieving standards.

The effort to define the Consortium’s purpose and direction is important to achieving meaningful improvements among the 28 IHS hospitals and other IHS-operated facilities. Our patients enter the hospital with the expectation of being healed and not harmed. They rely on the Indian Health Service to provide quality care and safety, and the Quality Consortium is the skilled and knowledgeable group to guide that delivery.

As IHS Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Susan V. Karol (Tuscarora Nation) provides medical advice and guidance to the Office of the Director and staff on American Indian and Alaska Native health care policies and issues. She serves as the primary liaison and advocate for IHS field clinical programs and community-based health professionals.

Dr. Susan Karol, Chief Medical Officer, Indian Health Service