In 1993, Alaska Native leadership of SCF sought to redesign the Tribal health care system in Southcentral Alaska based on Alaska Native values and needs. To accomplish this, a needs assessment was conducted, surveying the Native Community to find out what was desired. In a comparable 2018 needs assessment, it is clear that SCF successfully addressed many of the challenges that impacted the quality of care at the Alaska Native Hospital of 25 years ago, and placed the care of Native people front and center.
In 1993, community feedback was largely negative:
- Difficulty getting appointments
- Long wait times
- Disrespectful treatment by employees and providers
- Poor quality care
- An unhygienic facility
- Lack of health ownership
In 2018, overall impressions of were mostly positive:
- Wide variety of services offered
- Well trained and respectful providers and staff
- Focus on community and family
- Clean, updated and more welcoming facilities
- Several forms of health ownership
- Value placed on customer-owner voices
- Providers willing to work with customer-owners to develop personalized care plans
- Educational opportunities offered to customer-owners
After the historic transfer of ownership, the people receiving the care moved to the driver’s seat. SCF stopped using the term “patient,” and replaced it with “customer-owner.” And, as the new customer-owners of the entire system, Alaska Native people could design, own, and manage their health care. The new system focused on relationships, recognizing that each individual has more control over his or her own health outcomes than providers do, and that when providers build strong relationships with customer-owners, it helps providers understand customer-owners and the health issues they may be facing. It also builds trust between them, which allows providers to support customer-owners more effectively in achieving wellness.
In addition to engaging patients on an individual level, SCF also successfully engages the community in a number of ways, including through events like an annual gathering, through advisory committees, and through the development of community councils that provide feedback directly into the system. SCF has over 15 listening posts to collect input and feedback. We’ve also implemented events and services for customer-owners such as group classes, workshops, special events, health fairs, individualized counseling, cooking classes, and educational demonstrations.