Crystal Barter is the Director of Performance Improvement for the Michigan Center for Rural Health. She came to the Center through an AmeriCorps position a little over 6 years ago. Crystal grew up in the “Asparagus Capitol of the Nation” in Hart, MI on Lake Michigan.

Q. What is the most interesting thing you are working on right now?
We are working on three innovative projects that I am very excited about right now.

The MCRH is a partner in a Practice Transformation Network Award. As part of this three state initiative, we will be working with rural healthcare providers, including certified RHCs and rural private practices in achieving large-scale health transformation. This includes sharing, adapting and further developing comprehensive quality improvement strategies and operational efficiencies.

The MCRH is partnering with the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Keystone Group to participate in the Hospital Engagement Network 2.0. The MCRH will work with the 20 independent CAHs in Michigan as a quality improvement coordinator. The work focuses on the culture of patient safety within an organization.

The MCRH assisted in submitting two CMS ACO Investment Model applications as part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The ACO participants include 17 rural hospitals and 1 rural FQHC. They had their first joint meeting of rural ACOs in August and will be hosted their second one in November.

Q. What is one characteristic that you believe every SORH leader should possess?
Flexibility. Every day we are presented with new challenges and opportunities, so it’s important to be willing to change your planned course of action if it’s needed. Also, I think that building and maintaining partnerships is a vital characteristic of successful SORH leaders.

Q. What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a SORH leader?
Saying yes to new opportunities and looking at them as learning opportunities instead of increased workload is something I strive to do.  It’s important to view new challenges as a way to build skills.

Q. What is the biggest challenge facing SORH leaders today?
I think prioritizing is one of the biggest challenges. There are so many resources that SORHs can offer, and so many competing priorities that one must be able to analyze and determine what makes the most sense for their state. Also, in my position, I cannot be a subject matter expert on everything and sometimes I find it frustrating not being able to answer a very technical question. But, working with partners, I know that we will be able to find the correct answer and get back to our SORH audience.

Q. What are your top three goals for 2016?

  1. Finishing my Master’s as I am two classes away from obtaining my Master’s in Healthcare Administration.
  2. Assisting John and the rest of the staff in expanding MCRH staff, resources, and diversifying our revenue stream
  3. Continuously improving leadership and management skills