The Class of 2018 profiles the women and men who joined the AHA board this year.

Patients want reliable, understandable information about the cost and quality of their care, says AHA board member David Entwistle, CEO of the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics (UUHC) in Salt Lake City.

Openly sharing patient satisfaction metrics creates a culture of empathy, communication, trust and shared decision making between patients and providers, says Entwistle, who joined the AHA’s board in January.  

It’s why UUHC in late 2012 became the first academic medical center in the country to put its patient reviews online, complete with unedited comments and an accessible five-star ranking. The results are culled from online surveys sent to each patient after each visit.         

Entwistle points out that it’s easy to check any number of online reviews to find a good restaurant, hotel, plumber or hair stylist. He asks why hospitals can’t make it just as easy for patients to select their providers. He believes it makes for good medicine.

Indeed, a study in the December issue of the health care research journal Academic Medicine found UHHC’s online physician ratings fostered strong physician-patient relationships and led to an increase in patient satisfaction and employee engagement.  

Entwistle cites UHHC’s online ratings initiative as an example of how America’s hospitals and health systems must innovate to adapt to a changing health care world – and how the AHA must harvest the bounty of hospitals’ experience, talent and ideas to remain a “thought leader” for the field.

“If the AHA becomes the aggregator of those ideas and solutions to improve the patient experience, that will put all of us in a powerful position,” Entwistle says. “We need to be the voice that people turn to for solutions.”

Such leadership will be increasingly important as hospitals confront what Entwistle calls the triple challenge of continuing to achieve savings in the system, meet the demand of broader patient access to care and satisfy patients’ heightened expectations about the care they receive.

The AHA already offers the field a wealth of valuable resources aimed at helping its members address today’s concerns and prepare them for the future, says Entwistle. But he says members – including himself – have not always taken full advantage of the tools, education and resources provided by their national organization.  

“I didn’t appreciate all that we were getting by being members,” he says. “The AHA provides the value; it’s up to the members to make sure they are maximizing that value.”

Entwistle has been CEO of UUHC since 2007. Before joining the Utah system, he served for five years at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics’ senior vice president and chief operating officer in Madison. Entwistle chairs the AHA’s Regional Policy Board (RPB) 8.

EntwistleFor the AHA’s board, the image of a hospital is becoming less about four walls and more about partnerships that advance the health of individuals and communities. Entwistle says the board’s “Redefining the H” initiative is intended to support hospital and system leaders in engaging effectively with their community leaders and service organizations to meet people’s needs and improve community health.

“This is a new era where, for example, payers and providers have to be partners moving forward, and where we all have to come together around managing health and consumers’ expectations,” he says. “Redefining the H prompts those discussions and gives you ideas. But you have to do this internally for yourself and according to our own market dynamics.” 

What excites Entwistle most about the AHA board is its “consensus-driven model” and how it “fosters people coming to the table to look for solutions.” It’s why he wanted to join the board.

“The AHA is not a top-down organization,” he says. “The way the board approaches issues, the way it pushes issues down to the RPBs, the way it uses constituents to make decisions and drive an agenda makes it a pretty phenomenal organization.”