The health care field continues to face challenges from multiple environmental forces. But at hospitals and health systems throughout the nation, health care executives, managers, and frontline staff are not only meeting the challenges presented but also continuing their commitment and work to advance quality, safety and efficiency in patient care.

Below are some of the ways American Hospital Association (AHA) is helping accelerate performance improvement.


Driving Performance Improvement through Education and Information Sharing

As AHA’s strategic platform to accelerate performance improvement in health care, Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence (HPOE) regularly releases guides that help inform health care leaders on how to prepare for the changing health care landscape and continually improve quality. A sample of recent guides include:

In addition, HPOE hosts monthly webinars that allow experts and health care practitioners an avenue to connect directly with those in the field. These resources, along with case studies on advanced strategies in performance improvement, can be accessed at

 Leveraging Research and Education to Improve the Health of All Communities

The Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) is the not-for-profit research and education affiliate of the AHA. HRET’s mission is to transform health care through research and education. HRET’s applied research seeks to create new knowledge, tools and assistance in improving the delivery of health care by providers and practitioners within the communities they serve.

For example, HRET led the largest of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital Engagement Networks (HENs), representing 31 state hospital associations and nearly 1,500 hospitals. From January 2012 through November 2014, HRET’s HEN improved hospital quality in several clinical topics areas. Estimated highlights show:

  • Nearly 1,000 NICU admissions were prevented via the early elective delivery reduction program; 
  • More than 4,500 pressure ulcers were prevented; 
  • More than 65,000 readmissions were prevented; and 
  • More than 8,600 CAUTI, VAP, CLABSI and SSI infections were prevented.

If you look across all 11 topics, this accounts for more than 92,000 prevented harms with associated cost savings of more than $988 million.*

HRET will continue this work through additional quality improvement projects and offers a quality improvement-focused membership, the Symposium for Leaders in Healthcare Quality, a forum of the AHA, for ongoing support to hospitals on their quality journey.

For more, visit:

HRET also works with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to coordinate On the CUSP: Stop CAUTI, which has successfully reduced catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). In coordination with AHRQ, participants – 949 hospitals and 1,578 inpatient units located across 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico – have seen a 15.2 percent relative reduction in CAUTI rates. Furthermore, 91 percent of participants who started the project with zero CAUTI rates have sustained these zero rates through collection period.

HRET also is a leader in work to eliminate disparities in care and promote diversity. In addition to producing its noted Disparities Toolkit, HRET supports Equity of Care, a joint effort of the AHA, America’s Essential Hospitals, American College of Healthcare Executives, Association of American Medical Colleges and Catholic Health Association of the United States. Resources include guides, best practices, case studies and national collaborative efforts. The initiative, supported by HPOE and the AHA’s Institute for Diversity in Health Management, recently released “Equity of Care: A Toolkit for Eliminating Health Disparities”. Visit to learn more.

In addition, HRET is preparing health care leaders for the challenges ahead through two fellowship programs: the AHA-National Patient Safety Foundation Comprehensive Patient Safety Leadership Fellowship, and the AHA Health Care System Transformation Fellowship. The Health Care Transformation Fellowship is an intensive, nine-month program to provide health care leaders with skills to help their organizations implement innovative delivery and payment system transformation models. The fellowship curriculum addresses a variety of health care transformation topics including:

1. Clinician alignment and leadership;
2. New care delivery models;
3. Navigating financial risk in the volume to value transition;
4. Population health management;
5. The integration of health information technology; and
6. Evolving partnerships with payers, employers, community organizations and other non-traditional partners.

Through a combination of in-person educational sessions and web seminars, participants learn about the challenges and key success factors to implementing these models through first-hand accounts from organizations that have already started down the path. Fellows will also complete a defined nine-month project, with the goal of advancing their organizations’ efforts towards health care transformation.

The AHA-NPSF Patient Safety Leadership Fellowship is a yearlong intensive learning experience that develops leadership competencies and promotes breakthroughs in safety practices through a dynamic, highly participatory, and structured learning community. The Fellowship provides health care professionals across the country an opportunity to integrate innovative strategies into their day-to-day work and improve efforts to create a culture of safety in their organizations. Click here to learn more. 

* Data Source: Comprehensive Data System (CDS), 11/18/14. Cost references from the CMS Performance Evaluation Contractor April 2014 Formative Feedback Report.

Health Forum: Advancing Excellence

Health Forum is a strategic business enterprise of the AHA that develops and delivers information and innovative services to help health care leaders achieve organizational performance excellence and sustainability.

Three titles, Hospitals & Health Networks, Trustee and Health Facilities Management, help leaders create delivery systems of the future by delivering vital and timely information on a daily basis. Whether facing governance and leadership challenges or new codes and standards for hospital design and construction, Health Forum’s publications give C-suite level executives and purchasing decision makers the insight they need to transform their hospitals in an ever-changing environment. All three publications have e-newsletters as well as related websites.

Health Forum’s educational programs, including the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit and the Rural Health Care Leadership Conference, offer cutting-edge insights to guide health care organizations in the post-reform era. Speakers Express also has a tremendous roster of distinguished health care leaders and experts available for management and board meetings.

Health care leaders depend on AHA Data for a comprehensive understanding of the health care market, competitive marketplace analysis and benchmarking. This data is essential for health care business and product development. The data group also offers the UB04 Data Specifications Manual and the complete UB-04 Electronic Data Set, the official source of billing codes for health care providers. In addition, the data group manages the Most Wired awards, which help assess technological development in hospitals.

The AHA’s Central Office serves as the official U.S. clearinghouse for medical coding (ICD-9-CM,ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS) and provides officially sanctioned coding guidelines and advice. In addition, the Central Office provides advice on CPT codes for hospital prodders and certain level II HCPCS codes. These coding systems serve an important function for quality review and hospital reporting, and also ensure timely payments to hospitals, health care systems and other providers.

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