Some people complain that Americans these days are too quick with the kudos. Diners overtip restaurant staff however inattentive the service or mediocre the food. Parents shower their kids with praise even when report cards are less than stellar or fly balls are repeatedly flubbed in Little League games. Shoppers thank retail workers for doing the job they’re paid to do and cashiers for ringing up all those overpriced products of questionable quality that we probably shouldn’t have bought in the first place. Still, graciousness, good manners and a little gratitude can help to smooth the edges of our often rough-edged world.

Here at Hospitals & Health Networks, it’s always a pleasure to present our annual Stars of the Field special section, which focuses on efforts that truly deserve high praise. Every August, we profile organizations that have been recognized by the American Hospital Association and others for their amazing work to improve the health and care of individuals and communities around the nation. Whether the goal is to boost quality and patient safety, strengthen the continuum of care, explore better ways to deliver palliative and end-of-life care, or make innovative use of information technology, all of these initiatives have genuinely earned our applause and appreciation.

More importantly, spotlighting the winners is an opportunity to disseminate across the health care field strategies that have been tested in the real world and proved successful. The examples are readily adaptable by other providers in communities everywhere.

For example, Children’s Hospital Colorado has created what it calls Target Zero, a multifaceted effort to eliminate patient harm. One tactic: photo prompts on electronic health records help to ensure that the right patient is receiving the treatment that’s about to be delivered. It’s simple, straightforward and effective.

The AHA NOVA Award focuses on initiatives in which hospitals bring together all sorts of local groups to tackle community health. This year, one ambitious program took on an entire distressed community in Florida to enhance residents’ access to care, as well as to improve housing, transportation, education and recreation — and even eliminate a serious environmental hazard.

We invite you to read how these award-winning organizations have confronted some of the biggest challenges our field and society as a whole face today, and to consider how you might apply their lessons to the people and places you serve. 

Stars of the field

AHA-McKesson Quest for Quality Prize

Smart use of data and a commitment to employee and patient engagement help to drive efforts to improve quality and patient safety at this year's winning and finalist organizations.

AHA Nova Award

By bringing together a broad range of local partners, these five health care organizations continue to achieve a variety of dramatic benefits for their communities.

Circle of Life Award

With compassion for patients, families and caregivers, Care Dimensions takes a multifaceted, innovative approach to enhancing palliatie and end-of-life care in the Boston area.

Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award

A pioneer in quality improvement, the Minnesota Hospital Associatoin has long spearheaded efforts to spread best practices across the state.

Most Wired Innovator Award

As health care information technology becomes ever more sophisticated, these three winners have found creative ways to improve patient care and organizational processes.