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Dr. John Helfrick has the power to influence the quality of care at more than 18,000 hospitals and health care organizations across the country. But that means he isn't always a popular man.
Helfrick is the chairman of the board for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which is the health care industry's most powerful accrediting body. It's responsible for evaluating hospitals, home health care agencies, managed care plans and other medical groups.
And Joint Commission approval is so crucial to health care institutions that 5,100 of the nation's 6,300 hospitals have sought and received accreditation from the organization.
But with the health care industry in constant evolution, the Joint Commission can be controversial at times, and Helfrick accepts that.
The organization is not too popular with hospitals, some of which struggle to stay in compliance with its strict standards. And many medical facilities don't like paying the thousands of dollars and providing the countless hours of work it takes to maintain the industry's seal of approval.
"Not everybody likes the Joint Commission," Helfrick says. "We're not loved and revered."
The chairman does not let the opposition bother him, however, because of his goal of improving the overall quality of health care.