In the pursuit of providing the highest-quality health care for our patients and communities, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must continue to invest in innovation and advance the care delivery model. We must develop new ways to lower costs and make care more affordable. And we must resolutely confront the economic realities that challenge us and work together to ensure that providers are well-equipped to effectively navigate the journey to transformation.

In January, the American Hospital Association’s Committee on Research and Committee on Performance Improvement released their joint report, “Care and Payment Models to Achieve the Triple Aim.” This comprehensive assessment concluded that the care delivery system of the future should be based on seven key principles:

  • Design the care delivery system with the whole person at its center.
  • Empower people and the care delivery system itself with information, technology and transparency to promote health.
  • Build care management and coordination systems to provide high-quality care through teamwork and delineated roles.
  • Integrate behavioral health and social determinants of health with physical health.
  • Develop collaborative leadership structures with a focus on diversity.
  • Integrate care delivery into the community.
  • Create safe and highly reliable care organizations.

The report also outlines short- and long-term policy recommendations, targeting stress points that can impede the movement from volume- to value-based care — an industry imperative.

The recommendations and key principles offer valuable guidance and a clear path forward as hospitals traverse the rapidly changing health care environment.

The AHA established Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence, a strategic platform to accelerate performance improvement in U.S. hospitals and health systems, as another resource for providers. This past year, HPOE published guides on creating effective hospital-community partnerships to build a culture of health; partnering with patients and families to improve quality and safety of care; using Triple Aim strategies to improve behavioral health care; and engaging patients in the community health needs assessment process, among others. In addition, HPOE and the AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum released a compendium to help hospitals, in partnership with clinical staff and patients, closely examine the appropriate use of medical resources. This compendium helps to identify unnecessary services and reduce costs while improving care overall.

As we look ahead, there is one thing that won’t change. Our nation’s hospitals and health systems remain focused on the mission that unites us all: providing the highest-quality care to the patients and communities we are so privileged to serve. Fortunately, we have talented leaders, clinicians and staff committed to improving care delivery, making health care more affordable and achieving better outcomes for all patients.

Visit Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence at and the AHA website at for resources, tools and inspiration for the work ahead.

Jim Skogsbergh, chair of the AHA board, is the president and CEO of Advocate Health Care, based in Downers Grove, Ill.