6 areas of growth in healthcare with Kristin Preihs from the American Hospital Association

Kristin L. Preihs is the director of clinical quality, grants and contracts at the Chicago-based American Hospital Association.

Mrs. Preihs will serve on the panel "The Next Wave of Emergency Preparedness" at Becker's 10th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference on Nov. 7-10 in Chicago. 

To learn more and register, click here.

Becker's Healthcare aims to foster peer-to-peer conversation between healthcare's brightest leaders and thinkers. In that vein, responses to our Speaker Series are published straight from interviewees. Here is what our speakers had to say.

Question: What is the smartest thing you've done in the last year to set your system up for success?

Kristin Preihs: One of the most rewarding experiences at the American Hospital Association (AHA) has been working with the hospital, public health and community leaders to change focus from "what went wrong" to "what went right." There's no doubt that these last two and a half years have been challenging for hospitals, health systems, and the communities in which they reside. Yet, I have consistently found inspiration, novel ideas, and partnerships that have effectively changed health care delivery to be more accessible, equitable and transparent. Through building the AHA's Living Learning Network (LLN) in partnerships with the CDC, I've been fortunate to connect health care, public health and community leaders to like-minded peers in the right way, at the right time, and in the right format resulting in simple, yet highly effective interventions that have demonstrated impact on patient and population outcomes. Undoubtedly, the 450 + thought leaders participating in the AHA'S LLN will be core to building the future health care delivery system. You read it here first.

Q: What are you most excited about right now and what makes you nervous?

KP: People often ask me what makes me nervous, what keeps me up at night and my answer is the same now as before the pandemic: the things we don't yet know and take for granted. As our field continues to pull itself out of the heavy shadow of COVID-19, we must take time to discuss the many issues the pandemic has brought to light. For example, the lack of equitable care, immense strains on the workforce, and the shock that for as much as we prepare, we were not prepared. These problems existed and might even say were known before the pandemic but were exacerbated by various medical, societal, political, and overall systematic shortcomings. Although we need to reflect on the litany of uncovered issues, we can just as equally focus on the positive disruptions.

To this point, I'm most excited about the clear shift in cultural mindsets of our nation's emerging future to a more accountable yet inclusive perspective and tapping into existing movements that call forth transparency to known opportunity. Gone are the days of a hierarchical, command and control, execute-minded, check-box-driven society. There's just no space for it. Here are the days of working with agility, empathy, vulnerability and empowerment of people. Moreover, here are the days of demonstrated impact; these things also keep me up at night but only out of pure excitement that the day is here and I'm fortunate enough to work alongside so many incredible leaders who will undoubtedly change the future because change is the only option.

Q: How are you thinking about growth and investments for the next year or two?

KP: The pandemic has underscored that we need to pay more attention and build sustainable resources for emergency preparedness. To prepare for the next global health crisis, we must determine more proactively how complex disasters are best mitigated. In the world of emergency preparedness, 75 percent of time and effort across sectors is spent in the response and recovery phases rather than in the emergency preparedness phase. Hospitals must continually mitigate, prepare for and respond to complex and even overlapping disasters.

Based on listening sessions with many of our own membership, the following are areas of growth that have arisen as high potential impact priorities on the future of emergency preparedness and response:

1. Improve the interoperability of surveillance and data reporting systems.

2. Manage misinformation and prepare for managing antagonistic circumstances (politicization of issue over science) and misinformation.

3. Teach crisis leadership skills and consistent implementation of strategies to foster resiliency.

4. Foster consistent engagement across healthcare facilities (acute and non-acute) within regional response models such as local healthcare coalitions.

5. Integrate a health equity framework into existing policies and procedures, including those related directly to disaster preparedness and response.

6. Sustainable funding to build and maintain public health and health care preparedness infrastructure

Q: How are you building resilient and diverse teams? 

KP: Resiliency is just a concept until we face situations in which we fail. COVID-19 and overlapping emergencies, including infectious diseases and manufactured and natural disasters, have reinforced that the way to make a difference is to adapt and move forward continually. Moreover, one cannot move forward without being transparent about shortcomings and co-creating solutions with diverse perspectives. How we have learned from each other is more than just concepts and processes because they have allowed us to develop trust. Relationships and transparency without fault are the systems to achieve resiliency.

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