AHA's 5 strategic priorities for 2017-2020

The American Hospital Association released its strategic plan for 2017 to 2020, which the organization says will position it to be a national advocate for and provide guidance to members who are seeking to "redefine the 'H'" — be it hospital, health system or health organization.

"We are defining the 'H' in new ways as hospitals and health systems prepare for the future," said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Carolinas HealthCare System and 2017 AHA chair. "However, what never changes is keeping our patients and communities at the heart of everything we do. This plan, developed with a lot of input from the field, provides clear strategic direction in navigating the changing landscape in a way that continues to advance our vision to ensure everyone reaches their highest potential for health — everyone."

Here are the five priorities the AHA detailed in its new strategic plan.

1. Advocating for access and coverage. To preserve access to healthcare through existing and alternative models, AHA plans to educate and partner with stakeholders around innovations relating to access.

2. Payment and delivery reform. The AHA aims to understand and support seamless care across all care settings and encourage adoption of successful models of healthcare transformation that also fund hospitals sufficiently.

3. Performance improvement. The AHA wants to promote high-reliability organizations and make sure all stakeholders are aligned with patient-centered goals.

4. Shaping the future workforce. Physicians, nurses, community health workers, volunteers and staff should be supported through training and talent management. The AHA would also like to see increased diversity at all levels of the workforce.

5. Telling the story. The AHA plans to advance community outreach and population health and address the social determinants of health "to further demonstrate the critical value of the hospital to a community."

Stakeholders have spoken out in praise of AHA's new strategic plan. For instance, Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, said it "demonstrates extraordinary leadership."

She continued, "It is a bold pledge to put the patient first. It calls for accountability through transparency, operational reforms, and attention to patients, families, and communities throughout the life cycle, in and out of the traditional hospital setting. In this time of uncertainty and change in our healthcare system, it is reassuring to purchasers like those involved in the Leapfrog movement that hospitals act with courage, not fear, and this plan achieves that."

However, she did note the Leapfrog Group would like to see AHA make patient safety an explicit priority.

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