Maybe the health care industry has finally reached its tipping point where value-based care is about to be the norm. Exactly how hospitals get there though will continue to be a work in progress, especially since there isn't a single blueprint for every organization to follow.

"It's clear we've already hit the tipping point in terms of focusing on value," AHA Chairman Jonathan Perlin, M.D., told me late last year, during an interview for our January issue. "In thinking about the transition to value-based health care, many of us have used the anaolgy of 'One foot on the dock and one foot on the boat.' Our industry will be in transition for a substantial period of time because it's quite difficult to flip a switch and maintain the ability to deliver care."

Navigating this change will force hospital leaders to rethink large parts of the business strategy.

"Redefining the H is so critically important because, in the absence of a switch that flips, all of us are working in this complex world of transition," Perlin says. "That said, that world has certain durable values in organizing around the Triple Aim — better health, better care, better value — that allow us to be our most effective, not only in today's environment, but prepare us for the increasing accountability that value-based health care anticipates."

The AHA recently released a new report — "Redefining the H" — which should be helpful to hospital CEOs and boards in moving to new models of care. Among the highlights, the toolkit includes five possible paths toward transformation, which aren't mutually exclusive: Specializing in certain types of care, partnering with others to add reach and gain efficiency, redefining toward a system more focused on ambulatory or long-term care, experimenting with new payment and delivery models, and integrating by adding health insurance or other types of care to the hospital's strategy.

Simultaneous to the redefining the H effort, Perlin says that it is important for the AHA to work closely with the government to ensure that the transition to more value-based payments doesn't have unintended consequences for care delivery.

"Our focus has to be on how we progressively build toward value, and how we work with our regulators and legislators to define a sustainable business model," he says. "An effective transition must, at a minimum, maintain America's ability to meet pressing health needs and, ideally, lift all participants in America's health care toward higher performance."