Recently, Benjamin K. Chu, MD, MPH, MACP, group president for Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, spoke at his investiture as chair of the American Hospital Association. The AHA represents America’s hospitals and health systems, and Dr. Chu is leading the organization at a key time for the health sector.
Dr. Chu was kind enough to talk with us about his new role with the AHA, what the organization is focusing on with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the changing nature of patient-centered care and the patient/health care team dynamic.
Congratulations on your chairmanship with the AHA. What will this new role within the organization mean for you?
The American Hospital Association represents about 5,000 hospitals across the country, and it’s governed by a 27-member board. One of the important tasks is advocacy — largely on the federal level – both in congress and among the federal agencies that have bearing on health policy.
But I think much more important from Kaiser Permanente’s point of view is that the American Hospital Association has been moving toward shaping care transformation across the country. For about the last half-dozen years, the AHA has focused on an effort called, “Hospitals in Pursuit of Excellence,” which tries to bring together different ideas on quality improvement and innovation and then leverage that learning across the industry.
Last year, I was involved in the committee on research reports that focused on patient and family engagement. I was happy to be part of this effort, because one of the most important pieces of Kaiser Permanente’s Total Health agenda is much more than taking care of people during their episodes of illness; it’s trying to put into place all of the environmental changes and influences that could help people make healthier choices in their lives.
You are taking the reins at a key time in the history of health care with the implementation of the ACA. What do you anticipate the organization will focus on under your leadership?