When it comes to leading rural hospitals and clinics, the phrase, "all hands on deck" often comes to mind. After all, we usually wear many hats compared with our colleagues who run metropolitan organizations. It takes incredible teamwork to provide the high quality and efficient care people living in rural America depend on every day. We need to be well-informed, innovative, inspired, expert and compassionate to lead through the uncertain times we live in today.

For more than 25 years, the Rural Health Care Leadership Conference sponsored by the American Hospital Association and Health Forum has provided all of us focused on rural health care the opportunity to learn, talk and network with others who are facing the same challenges. Last year, more than 600 people came to the warmth of the Arizona desert in the winter, breaking an attendance record.

Once again, the 2013 conference offers engaging speakers, contemporary topics and unique opportunities to learn from each other. In addition, Laura Woodburn, executive director of Health Forum's educational programs, and her team are always creating exciting activities for attendees. This year will feature three pre-conference workshops as well as a welcoming celebration of music, health and healing. Hot topic roundtable discussions and multiple recreational opportunities round out the agenda. Speaking of "all hands on deck," be sure to check out the brochure online at www.healthforum.com to see the gigantic lineup of more than 25 different sessions available this year. Some of the major themes include:

  • Understanding the impact of the changing environment on rural providers.
  • Exploring strategic collaborations to enhance clinical integration.
  • Clarifying the roles of trustees and providing tools for improving governance practices.
  • Creating a true culture of quality and safety, grounded in systems improvements.
  • Improving recruitment and retention by building an organization that engages partners and boasts a collaborative culture.
  • Exploring emerging technologies for improving care delivery and information technology.

Succeeding in rural communities requires strong and visionary leadership from members of the board, C-suite and medical staff. This conference will help you and your team gain practical advice and proactive ideas to better develop and lead your organization through increasingly complex and changing times for exceptional results.

I look forward to this conference every year and invite you to make plans to attend. Registration is now open for the 2013 Rural Health Care Leadership Conference Feb. 10–13, at family-friendly Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix. Join us for engaging discussions, excellent presenters and many opportunities to network with colleagues. I look forward to seeing you in the desert.

Todd Linden is president and CEO of Grinnell (Iowa) Regional Medical Center and a member of the Health Forum board of directors.

 


NEWS FROM THE AHA …

TrendWatch looks at hospitals' progress on quality improvement

The latest AHA TrendWatch report examines the gains hospitals have made in improving quality and patient safety, including reductions in health care-associated infections and adherence to accepted treatment protocols. In addition, the report highlights various strategies hospitals are employing to improve quality and patient safety. According to the report, hospitals use a variety of tested quality improvement approaches that generally involve five steps: identifying areas for improvement; determining what process can be modified to improve outcomes; developing and executing effective improvement strategies; tracking performance and outcomes; and disseminating results to spur broad quality improvement. Visit http://bit.ly/UAEulh.

Environmental Scan identifies major trends for hospital leaders

The American Hospital Association's "Environmental Scan 2013" provides insight into market forces that have a high probability of affecting the health care field. It is designed to help hospital leaders better understand the health care landscape and the critical issues and emerging trends their organizations likely will face in the foreseeable future. The scan is compiled from nationally recognized sources with recommendations from AHA governance committees. For information, go to /topics/179-gatefolds.

AHA Guide offers hospital data

The AHA Guide 2013 provides comprehensive information on 6,500 hospitals; 400-plus health care systems, networks and alliances; 700 health care organizations and associations; 700 governmental agencies; and 3,000 other accredited providers. Hospital profiles include physician arrangements, hospital organizational structure, utilization data, primary service data, approval code/accreditations, and Medicare Provider Identification. For information, visit www.ahadataviewer.com.