The AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize recognizes hospitals that have developed a systems-based approach to improving care that integrates and aligns improvement efforts throughout the organization. Using the Institute of Medicine's six quality aims — safety, effectiveness, efficiency, timeliness, patient-centeredness and equity — as a framework, they are working to ensure highly reliable, exceptional quality health care. On behalf of the Quest for Quality Committee, thanks to all the hospitals that applied for the 2013 awards and special thanks to those that hosted site visits. Collectively, you have raised the bar and provided models and inspiration for the entire field. The following are some key learnings from the 2013 award process.

PATIENT-CENTERED. While patient satisfaction measures are important in gauging how hospitals are viewed by patients, families and communities, patient satisfaction and patient-centeredness are not the same. This year's honorees have taken a greater step toward patient- and family-centered care and are actively engaging them in their own care; in hospital safety, improvement, and operational activities; or both. They are going beyond surveys and focus groups to reach out to patients and families as true partners in their care and in the hospital. And they've discovered that patients and families enrich their discussions and improve their work.

BED SIZE DOESN'T MATTER. This year's four honorees range from 72 beds to 814 beds — two are academic medical centers and two are community hospitals. While some have argued that change is more challenging for highly complex hospitals and others have argued that small hospitals have less access to the type of technology and expertise that enables achievements in quality improvement, we found high achievers on both ends of the spectrum.

LOCATION DOESN'T MATTER. This year's honorees include both rural and urban hospitals.

LEADERS MATTER. Success in these efforts begins with strong leadership commitment and engagement, from the board to executive management to clinical leadership, and hinges on the efforts and engagement of everyone who works in the hospital. Although participation may begin with individual and department goals that are aligned with hospital goals, it is the passion of front-line staff that makes the truly exceptional hospitals stand out. The site visit team at one of this year's honorees will long remember the impassioned comments from the materials manager about how his area was critical to ensuring high quality care in his hospital — with full details on how his staff contributed.

The AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize® Committee congratulates the 2013 winner, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston; the 2013 finalist, Franklin Woods Community Hospital, Johnson City, Tenn.; and the two 2013 Citation of Merit honorees, St. Mary's Hospital, Centralia, Ill., and Vidant Medical Center, Greenville, N.C. Please read their stories in this issue of Hospitals & Health Networks.

Gary R. Yates, M.D., is a vice president at Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Va., where he serves as the president of two Sentara subsidiaries: the Sentara Quality Care Network and Healthcare Performance Improvement LLC. He is a senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, chair of the AHA–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize Selection Committee, a member of the VHA Board of Directors, and a member of the editorial board for the American Journal of Medical Quality.

News from the AHA

Report looks at hospital mergers and acquisitions

A June report from the AHA and the Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy found that a small fraction of hospitals were involved in transactions such as mergers or acquisitions between 2007 and 2012. About 10 percent of community hospitals, or 551 hospitals, were part of a merger or acquisition during that period and a large majority of them involved expansion into new areas or occurred in aresa where there were more than five hospitals. "Hospitals are responding to the call for better coordinated, high-quality care by moving away from a structurally fragmented care system," says Rich Umbdenstock, AHA president and CEO. "Hospitals are collaborating with others ultimately to benefit patients and communities that hospitals serve." Visit

Webinar will help hospitals consider value-based contracting

Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence will present a two-part webinar, "A Primer on Value-Based Contracting," Aug. 15 and Aug. 27. Participants will include experts from Kaufman Hall, who, among other things, will assess how hospitals can assess how prepared they are to assume risk under value-based arrangements and evaluate a value-based contact. The webinar will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. ET on both days. Advance registration is required. Visit

A roadmap for the second curve

"Metrics for the Second Curve of Health Care" expands on four strategies identified as major priorities for hospitals and health care organizations moving from the volume-based first curve to the value-based second curve. They include aligning hospitals, physicians and other clinical providers across the continuum of care; utilizing evidence-based practices to improve quality and patient safety; improving efficiency through productivity and financial management; and developing integrated information systems. HPOE created a roadmap to help health care leaders track their progress on implementing the strategies. Visit