Feeling a little overwhelmed these days? I get it. What your hospital or health system does and how you get paid for it are changing dramatically and at a truly dizzying pace.

But there's no need to panic. Help has arrived.

Last week I told you about an ongoing survey being conducted by the American Hospital Association and Health Forum Health Care Data Center to identify new care delivery and payment models and see where the field stands when it comes to adopting them. Not only is the survey intended to provide the big picture, it also will help health care leaders understand all the options and how different organizations are modifying them to accommodate their particular needs.

Now the AHA Committee on Research has issued a report that outlines strategies for hospital leaders to move their organizations from the so-called first curve of health care, in which hospitals operate in a volume-based environment, to the second curve, in which they will be building value-based care systems and business models.

The report is called "Your Hospital's Path to the Second Curve: Integration and Transformation" and, as the committee puts it, it "outlines must-do strategies, organizational capabilities to master and 10 strategic questions that every organization should answer to begin a transformational journey."

The report reviews the pressures driving hospitals toward greater clinical integration, more financial risk and increased accountability, and provides a framework for leading organizations toward a customized path or series of paths for health care transformation. It identifies five paths for hospitals to consider:

  • Redefine to a different care delivery system (i.e., either more ambulatory or oriented toward long-term care).
  • Partner with a care delivery system or health plan for greater horizontal or vertical reach, efficiency and resources for at-risk contracting (i.e., through a strategic alliance, merger or acquisition).
  • Integrate by developing a health insurance function and/or services across the continuum of care (e.g., behavioral health, home health, post-acute care, long-term care, ambulatory care).
  • Experiment with new payment and care delivery models (e.g., bundled payments, accountable care organization, medical home).
  • Specialize to become a high-performing and essential provider (e.g., children's hospital, rehabilitation center).

Both the Committee on Research report and the Data Center survey are practical tools to help hospital and health system leaders get their arms around our new and still evolving health care world and ensure that their organizations endure and thrive.