What does your hospital do exceptionally well? Who is accomplishing something everyone should hear about? Chances are, there's an award for that. The American Hospital Association has more than a dozen major national awards that put a spotlight on those who are doing good work. Just as important, our awards draw attention to issues that are critical to health care.

Many hospitals are seeking ways to improve patient and family satisfaction through advanced illness management. The Circle of Life Award honors innovative programs in an important area: palliative and end-of-life care. Any organization or group in the United States that provides palliative or end-of-life care can be nominated. Winners are chosen each year, and other organizations receive Citations of Honor. The programs and innovations of all of these honorees are described in this issue of Hospitals & Health Networks. Their stories also appear in each year's Circle of Life Award booklet, which is widely circulated and serves as an inspiration to health care organizations looking for new ways to meet the needs of individuals and families early in life-limiting illnesses or to use palliative care expertise to ease pain, suffering and other symptoms for patients of all ages and prognoses. The Circle of Life Award honorees often receive extensive local media coverage, creating excellent opportunities for communities to learn about their important efforts.

Dramatically improving quality of care is another area of intense focus for hospitals. The goals of the American Hospital Association–McKesson Quest for Quality Prize are to raise awareness of the need for a hospitalwide commitment to highly reliable, exceptional quality, patient-centered care; reward successful efforts to develop and promote a systems-based approach toward improvements in quality of care; inspire hospitals to systematically integrate and align their quality improvement efforts throughout the organization; and communicate successful programs and strategies to the hospital field.

State, regional and metropolitan hospital associations are playing an important leadership role improving the quality of care. The AHA's newest award, the Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership, recognizes associations that have engaged in exceptional initiatives to improve quality in the hospitals they serve and to raise the bar for hospital and health system performance improvement across the country. The award is named for AHA President Emeritus Dick Davidson, a leading advocate of quality and the role of hospital associations in leading improvement efforts.

Hospitals have always worked with other organizations to improve the health status of the communities they serve. Those efforts, however, have taken on new urgency in the current health care environment. The AHA NOVA Award is one way to call attention to the innovative collaborations in which hospitals are now engaged to bring better health to the populations they serve. The award itself is collaborative, a joint effort of the AHA and Hospitals & Health Networks.

At the Health Forum and American Hospital Association Leadership Summit last month, we recognized the winners of these and several other prestigious awards. Learn about all of AHA's awards, and how you or your organization can make a nomination or be nominated, at www.aha.org/about/awards/index.shtml.

Rich Umbdenstock
President, American Hospital Association