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by Rick Pollack
Published on November 4, 2019

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

Health care is transforming like never before, and this is especially true for America’s hospitals and health systems. At the American Hospital Association (AHA), preparing our 5,000 member hospitals and health systems for the future is at the heart of everything we do, and this includes advocating on the issues, trends and policies that affect our members most.

Despite the divided government in Washington, D.C., the good news is that most of the priority public health issues – such as drug pricing, the opioid crisis, surprise billing and health care infrastructure – are bipartisan. By and large, patients, providers and policymakers all want a health care system that’s accessible, innovative, affordable and focused on wellness. But how do we get there? And, how will the rapid changes in health care impact the path forward?

We know that current events are often a signal of long-term trends. There’s no doubt that consumerism is transforming health care. Patients are becoming more engaged in directing their own care: they have the same expectations for a doctor’s visit as they do for shopping online or ordering a rideshare or dinner on their smartphone. Modern health care delivery must be convenient. On-demand services such as same-day appointments, fast-track treatment in emergency departments, telehealth, home visits and walk-in care are becoming the standard. We can expect more emphasis on primary care and a greater push to establish policies around the social determinants of health. We’ll also see an acceleration of alternative payment models as value-based care replaces fee-for-service. To survive this next era, hospitals and health systems must evolve to compete with new players that are poised to disrupt the status quo by introducing smarter ways to meet the needs of patients and communities. It’s an uncertain time, but I’m encouraged to see many organizations already taking on the challenge of redesigning their care delivery systems to cut costs and provide high-value care.

There’s plenty of work to do. If one in four Americans say the cost of health care and prescriptions is their biggest concern, then we must move faster to change that statistic. At AHA, we’ve developed The Value Initiative to address the challenges of affordability and value head-on. We’re providing education, resources and tools, as well as gathering data and stories and building a national platform to develop solutions with policymakers and stakeholders.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” I believe this is the approach we should all take on our mission to advance health care. This is a critical time for everyone across the industry to take an active role in this much-needed transformation. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to improve and shape the future of care. Let’s work together to make the most of it. And by doing so, we’ll advance health in America.

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