AHA, AMA Offer New Guiding Principles on Integrated Leadership

CHICAGO — To provide guidance on best practices for reimagining traditional relationships between physicians and hospital executives, the American Medical Assoc. (AMA) and American Hospital Assoc. (AHA) released a new set of guiding principles for bringing clinical skills and business insights together at the leadership level to foster more collaborative and cohesive decision making at hospitals and health systems.

“Integrated Leadership for Hospitals and Health Systems: Principles for Success” provides a guiding framework for physicians and hospitals that choose to create an integrated leadership structure but are unsure how to best achieve the engagement and alignment necessary to collaboratively prioritize patient care and resource management.

The principles were sparked by the evolution of the nation’s healthcare system and the challenge of profound structural reforms to the delivery of, and payment for, care. They are the result of more than two years of work between the AHA and AMA.

“To lead the changes needed to move the healthcare system forward, many physicians and healthcare organizations may contemplate options for greater alignment and strong relationships to cultivate an environment centered on teamwork,” said AMA President Dr. Robert Wah. “The newp support having more physicians in the boardroom and in key roles at the executive level so hospitals can succeed in the reformed models for healthcare delivery and payment.”

A common thread for successful healthcare organizations is integrated healthcare leadership between physicians and administrative colleagues that involves a functional, trust-based partnership. According to the principles, “to accomplish this goal, it is paramount that all management decisions related to the new structure’s quality-improvement and population-health agenda are made jointly between the physicians and the hospital/health system managers.”

Dr. Jonathan Perlin, chairman of the AHA board of trustees and president of Clinical Services and chief medical officer at Hospital Corp. of America, noted that “the changing landscape of healthcare requires hospitals and physicians to become true partners, providing the best care for their patients. Care coordination is critical as healthcare continues to evolve, all leading to better outcomes for patients and providers alike. As healthcare is fundamentally a team-based activity, we believe that organizational collaboration models [are an] increasing necessity for interprofessional collaboration.”

In addition to the guiding principles, the new framework outlines key elements and challenges for creating and instituting integrated healthcare leadership between physicians and hospitals. Not all physicians or hospitals are seeking integration, but for those seeking to re-evaluate their approach to the delivery of coordinated care, the principles offer useful information for exploring new levels of collaboration and partnership.