August is my favorite month.

I’m lying, of course. September is my favorite month. The worst of the heat and humidity are behind us by then, baseball and football are in full swing, the kids are back in school, and a couple of neighborhoods near me throw their annual Octoberfests. I’ve never understood why they hold Octoberfests in September around here, but there’s beer and sausages and sauerkraut and oompah bands, so who cares?

Which is why, as I was saying, August is my favorite month. While we steadily chip away at the dog days of summer, we still have September to look forward to in all its pristine, mellow glory. Anticipation is its own reward.

Of course, if you work in health care, mellow is an elusive state whatever time of year it is. Besides the everyday urgency of taking care of people in various degrees of distress, you are struggling to get a handle on where in heck the field is headed and where your organization will fit once we get there. No wonder so many folks are suffering from what the experts call “change fatigue.”

But even while the horizon remains fuzzy, one path forward has emerged quite clearly this summer. To succeed in a value-based environment, hospitals must establish robust partnerships with anybody and everybody who might influence a community’s or an individual’s health in any way, shape or form. That point was underscored by many speakers at last month’s Health Forum and American Hospital Association Leadership Summit in San Diego.

For example, when CVPH Medical Center and others launched the Adirondacks Medical Home Initiative, “partnering with our primary care providers was going to really just be the end of this,” CVPH CEO Stephens Mundy told H&HN’s Marty Stempniak in an interview you can watch at “What we learned along this journey is that that’s just the tip of the iceberg … . You have to partner with your care manager, you have to reach outside your organization to your home health agencies, your county health department. Anybody we can think to partner with, we’re doing that now.”

Inside the hospital, partnerships take the form of team-based leadership and care. The AHA’s John Combes, M.D., outlined six integrated leadership principles developed by the AHA and the American Medical Association that include “an open and transparent sharing of clinical and business information by all parties across the continuum of care.” Robert Wachter, M.D., however, warned that the digitization of health care eliminates the need for face-to-face conversations among clinicians that used to be routine and, in doing so, stymies the collaboration necessary to move care delivery forward. Hospital leaders need to encourage and empower staff at all levels and in every position to meet in formal and informal groups to keep their conversations going.

For these and other insights from the Leadership Summit, visit

And sign up now for the H&HN Executive Forum taking place Oct. 25–26 in Chicago. Go to

In the meantime, have a terrific rest of August and an even better September. And, if you’re so inclined, raise a stein with your colleagues and collaborators to all the hard work you do together to make American health care even better. — Contact me at