More than 1,200 hospital, health system and health care leaders today gathered in San Diego for the 26th Annual AHA Leadership Summit. This year's conference theme is "Advancing Affordable Care and Promoting Value."

During today’s opening session, AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack discussed the association’s agenda for innovation and transformation and announced the launch of the AHA Center for Health Innovation. Pollack said the Center, which will officially launch this fall, will build on the AHA’s Value Initiative and provide members “with market intelligence to better understand the changes around us,” and “develop new data, tools and analytics to help you meet the challenges that lie ahead.” Noting that hospitals and health systems are “laboratories of innovation,” Pollack said that the AHA “can uniquely help all of us learn from each other – and play a leadership role in transforming the health system for the future.” Working together, he said “we can develop new care models that better align hospitals, physicians and other providers; create new pathways to redesign rural and urban care; evaluate and fuel new technologies that provide solutions; and make care more convenient.”
The AHA Board of Trustees has selected as it chair-elect designate Melinda Estes, M.D., president and CEO of Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, MO. She will become AHA chair in 2020. A board-certified neurologist and neuropathologist, Estes has served as president and CEO of Saint Luke’s Health System since 2011. Currently a member of the AHA Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee, Estes led an effort to strengthen physician engagement in the association and serves on an advisory group focused on how the association engages its members. “As a physician leader, I look forward to working with hospitals and health systems across the country as they continue to drive the transformation of care that improves the lives of patients and advances health in America,” Estes said. Read more.
Kicking off the Summit’s keynote sessions today, retired Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011-2014, discussed leadership and risk management and explored today’s geopolitical environment with a look toward America’s place in an ever-changing global community. Attendees also participated in workshops focused on achieving quality health care and advancing health in communities; trends and effective leadership and governance of hospitals and health systems; the essential role of leaders in addressing persistent behaviors that undermine team performance and patient safety; and an evidence-based approach to physician alignment.
Earlier today during a special AHA Town Hall, former Reps. Tom Davis (R-VA) and Steve Israel (D-NY) – two political strategists who helped steer their respective parties to victory in critical House races – discussed the upcoming mid-term elections and the implications for hospitals and health systems with Frank Sesno, anchor and Washington Bureau Chief, CNN (1984-2009) and director, The George Washington University's School of Media & Public Affairs.
On Wednesday, AHA hosted three pre-summit events focused on innovation, workforce and health equity. During a full-day event, “Innovation Leadership Challenge: Collaborating to Improve Hospital Flow, Save Lives and Reduce Costs,” attendees learned about proven innovation processes, tools, frameworks and insights in a dynamic environment. In addition, attendees participated in a half-day educational program on leading organizations that support a resilient, agile and engaged workforce, and a program on strategies to advance diversity, inclusion and health equity.
AHA today also presented a number of its annual awards, including:

  • Federal Health Care Awards – Capt. James Hancock, M.D., commanding officer of Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, received the Award for Excellence, while Lt. Col. Johnathan Compton, M.D., deputy director of medical services at the Air Force Medical Operations Agency in San Antonio, received the Special Achievement Award. Read more.
  • Board of Trustees Award – Ian Morrison, author and futurist, received the award. Read more.
  • AHA Quest for Quality Prize – New York State’s Northwell Health received this year’s award. Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, MD, and Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee were honored as finalists while Atrium Health in Charlotte, NC, and Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, MN, received the Citation of Merit. Read more.
  • Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership – the Missouri Hospital Association received this year’s award, and the Ohio Hospital Association was recognized for honorable mention. Read more

Watch for additional coverage from the Leadership Summit tomorrow and Saturday in AHA Today.

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