Rick Pollack

Rick Pollack speaks out on behalf of hospitals.

Finding common themes and insightful trends in the health care field in this time of transformation and uncertainty can be challenging. But we must if we want to be proactive and shape events rather than merely react to them.  Understanding the current climate and the direction of health in America will help us in our work to shape the health care delivery system of the future.

The legislative and policy work happening in Washington, D.C., and 50 state capitals is not the only driver of environmental changes. Advances in science, technology and information management; new models of care; changes in consumer preferences; and the growth of chronic conditions also play a large role. Addressing these issues provides us with the opportunity to find the best solutions for our patients and communities.

The American Hospital Association and America’s hospitals and health systems are seizing this moment and working to ensure:

  • Coverage and access for all.
  • High-value care.
  • Patients, families and other stakeholders are involved as partners.
  • Well-being and prevention.
  • Services that are provided in a coordinated, seamless manner.

We have organized the trends that will be felt in 2018 and beyond through the lens of this vision:

These commitments are the basis of the AHA strategic plan and touch all hospitals and health systems, even while each hospital’s path to achieving these ideals may differ. We hope that hospitals and health systems use this Environmental Scan to address the trends in health care and to tailor strategies to specific community needs.

While we work to advance health in America through our commitments, we cannot ignore the political climate in which health care has become a key focal point. Our advocacy strategies include grassroots efforts to spread our message through mobilization of millions of individual supporters, grass-tops action to amplify our voice through key media and stakeholders, sustained engagement with top policymakers by our advocacy team, data-driven research regarding the impact of potential policy changes, and focused advertising through a variety of media.

We work hand in hand with our members, state, metropolitan and regional hospital associations, national health care organizations and other stakeholders to develop and implement our strategy. We have developed a forward-thinking advocacy agenda that aims to positively influence the environment for patients, communities and the health care field.

Our field knows how to be nimble, stay focused and manage change. These traits will help us to navigate the road ahead. We have the opportunity to shape our future to fulfill our vision of a society of healthy communities where all individuals reach their highest potential for health. Thank you for your efforts to achieve this vision.  

Rick Pollack, President and CEO, American Hospital Association

James H. Skogsbergh


Many of the efforts to restructure our health care system stem from the idea that health care should be affordable to all Americans. We at the AHA have to ensure that proposed reforms provide real solutions to the problem. We must do our part to provide high-quality health care in an efficient way and promote value-based models of care that reduce costs.

James H. Skogsbergh, President and CEO , Advocate Health Care, 2017 Immediate Past Chair

Eugene A. Woods


Together as a field, it’s vitally important that we understand the different cultures, customs and languages that are unique to our communities in order to help with the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of healing. The AHA’s Equity of Care campaign seeks to strengthen the commitment of hospitals and health systems to eliminate health and health care disparities that continue to exist for our patients. Through these efforts, we’re working hard to ensure that every person in every community has the opportunity to reach their highest potential for health.”

Eugene A. Woods, President and CEO , Carolinas HealthCare System, 2017 AHA Chair

Nancy Agee


Fostering a culture of innovation is key as the hospital field moves forward in this era of transformation. It will create novel and efficient systems of care, scientific discoveries and an improved relationship with consumers. Responsibly investing in promising ideas and technologies ultimately will improve care and affordability.”

Nancy Agee, President and CEO , Carilion Clinic, 2017 AHA Chair-Elect



AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Access - Coverage

Hospitals, health systems and health organizations recognize that access to health care for individuals is the cornerstone of developing healthy communities across the nation. This issue includes the topics of affordability, coverage, health equity and the widespread need for behavioral and social services.



AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Access - Workforce

Without an adequate and appropriately trained supply of health professionals, the hospital field will not be able to meet the needs of an aging population, care for patients in rural and urban communities, address behavioral health needs and provide the services the changing environment will demand.



AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Access - Affordability

Affordability plays a key role in advancing access to health care, and community and legislative efforts increasingly focus on this issue. Hospitals have done significant work to control costs, and household spending, high deductibles and more will play into their efforts going forward.


Behavioral Health

AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Access - Behavioral

With mental health issues persisting, as well as shortages in behavioral health care workers, hospitals must consider the headwinds in their midst. They are further tasked with coming up with ways to combat the opioid crisis in this new environment.


AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Value

Health care transformation and value-based care models focusing on populations can improve the quality of care at a lower cost. Hospitals are learning new ways to enhance value, through investments in analytics, alternative payment models and more.


AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Partners

Health care providers are fostering true patient engagement and recognizing the diversity in their communities. As the patient grows to expect a digital health care experience, health care organizations are responding by embedding technology into care delivery and protecting patient information.


AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Well-Being

Hospitals focus on well-being and partnership with community resources. The health care system is evolving outside of the four walls of the hospital and into the community in an effort to manage and prevent chronic disease and improve the well-being of patients and the community.


AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Coordination

Better care coordination will organize patient care activities and information in an efficient and effective manner to achieve safer care with better outcomes. Teams, technology, data and innovation will spur the advancement of care coordination throughout the continuum of the delivery system.


AHA, 2018 Environmental Scan: Innovation

Innovation can drive improvements in care coordination and the transformation of the health care delivery system. Additionally, innovation activities can make health care more efficient and will play a key role in addressing the issue of affordability.

2018 Environmental Scan:

Read the complete 2018 Environmental Scan.

Q&A with Maryjane Wurth

Maryjane Wurth
How is the American Hospital Association anticipating the future in this era of uncertainty and rapid change?
The AHA is well-prepared to assist the hospital field by addressing the many scenarios that could come to fruition in the coming years. We have embedded the strategies of Advocacy and Representation, Thought Leadership, Knowledge Exchange and Change Agency throughout our programs and services. Through these approaches, we have crafted an innovation strategy across the AHA to accelerate health care’s transformation to new delivery and payment models and address affordability. We also have a leadership team devoted to innovative solutions and partnerships so we can rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges in the environment. Our innovation strategy involves the advancement of data-driven solutions to provide field-leading information, individualized member experiences, proactive analytics and tools that support our members. These strategies will complement and amplify our advocacy efforts.
What does health care leadership look like in this volatile environment?
Leaders in health care need to assess the realities of their particular situations, and balance their current circumstances with the need to envision and prepare for the future. This will entail asking pertinent questions, looking for new solutions, supporting a nimble environment, and being receptive to new partnerships and models of care delivery. Leaders have to rely on their teams, including governance, management, clinicians and staff, to develop and implement these solutions. This will require dedication of resources to substantial communication, training and culture change. Find and nurture the champions of new approaches in your organization who can then spread the word to colleagues. Always remember to ground your programs and services in the mission and purpose of your organization. And remember to celebrate successes and tell your story as it evolves — this provides inspiration to your employees and affirms the important role hospitals and health systems play in the community.
In terms of advocacy, we are living in a time when there is no clear federal vision for health care in America. Health care leaders are courageously stepping up in this vacuum to actively shape the future. We need our leaders to continue to use their voices and mobilize their stakeholders and employees to influence efforts in the interest of patients and the communities we serve.

Maryjane Wurth is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the American Hospital Association and President and CEO of Health Forum

The AHA Strategic Plan

The AHA strategic plan provides the framework to carry out the mission to advance the health of individuals and communities. The AHA leads, represents and serves hospitals, health systems and other related organizations that are accountable to the community and committed to health improvement.

The AHA Strategic Plan

Fostering Advancements for Members and the Field

Just as hospitals and health systems are undergoing transformation, the AHA is also changing to meet the needs of our members and to proactively explore trends of the future. Working with our membership and other stakeholders, the AHA is focused on providing value, guidance and forward-thinking solutions through the key strategies of: Knowledge Exchange, Advocacy and Representation, Agent of Change, American Hospital Association, AHA Members and Stakeholders, Thought Leadership.

The AHA Strategic Plan