Strategy Sessions

Strategy sessions during the 2021 AHA Rural Health Care Leadership Conference will provide innovative ideas, thoughtful insights, and tested strategies.
Our 2021 strategy sessions will be announced in October.

Previous Strategy Sessions

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday

Monday, February 3


Two Tales of Preserving Rural Access | 11:15 am - 12:30 pm & 3:00 - 4:45 pm

Ken Beutke, President, OSF HealthCare Saint Elizabeth Medical Center
Don Damron, Vice President of Ambulatory Services, OSF HealthCare Saint Elizabeth Medical Center
Nathan Miller, Executive Director, FQHC, Maury Regional Medical Center
Kenny Boyd, Chief Operating Officer, Maury Regional Health, Maury Regional Medical Center

Access to sustainable rural health care is increasingly threatened with many communities experiencing vulnerability to hospital closures. And yet, a bold “all in” commitment for rural America has produced alternative frameworks for health care sustainability that feature innovative care delivery models, patient and provider enabling technology solutions, network development, facility redesign, and community engagement and empowering partnerships. In this session we’ll explore how two organizations have successfully responded to the loss of their health care services to offer better support to their rural populations. You also learn how to educate the community that an alternative model may be the most viable long term solution to meet community needs.


Powered by Our People: Physician Partnership and Recruitment | 11:15am - 12:30 pm and 3:00 - 4:45 pm

Jennifer Wharton, Chief Ambulatory and Medical Group Officer, Jefferson Healthcare
Steve Butterfield, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Medical Group, Jefferson Healthcare

Armed with the realization that the easiest provider to recruit is the one that does not leave, Jefferson Healthcare has outlined a strategy for creating a great place for great providers to practice medicine. After two years of a dedicated focus on provider engagement, Jefferson Healthcare has recruited 20 providers and has developed a multi-specialty Medical Group dedicated to working together to deliver high quality, safe, value care to patients and the community. Learn strategies to instill provider engagement and improve recruitment by cultivating transparency, partnership, and a shared sense of purpose; leverage the power of a dyad structure and provider leadership development; create a structure that fosters collaboration; and work together to deliver high-quality care for patients and improve the quality of life for providers.


Creating Alignment for Success in Transitions of Care | 11:15am - 12:30 pm and 3:00 - 4:45 pm

Jason Cohen, MD, Chief Medical Officer, North Valley Hospital
Nancy Henriksson, Director, Care Continuum and Outpatient Infusion, North Valley Hospital

This session provides insights into maximizing limited resources to achieve improved outcomes at transitions of care. North Valley Hospital took a multidisciplinary approach to improve care transitions, including: redesign of the medical staff committee structure, implementation of individualized care plans, a nursing- focused rapid improvement event on the discharge process, care coordinator identification of care partners, an admission medication reconciliation improvement project, creation of a care continuum director, use of HIPAA-compliant messaging to primary care providers, and Hospitalist-led redesign of discharge instructions. Learn how the cumulative impact of these interventions lifted the hospital to 5-star achievement in the care transitions measure, and improved communication across the continuum of care.


Changing the Payment Paradigm — The Pennsylvania Rural Health Model | 11:15am - 12:30 pm

Janice Walters, Chief Operating Officer Consultant, Office of Rural Health Redesign -Pennsylvania Department of Health
David Hoff, Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Memorial Hospital
Tammy Anderer, MSN, CRNP, PhD, Chief Administrative Officer Geisinger Health System, North Central Region/Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital
Charles Flach, Director, Strategic Initiatives, Strategic Analysis of Clinical Affairs, UPMC Insurance Services; 
Kate Slatt, Senior Director, Innovative Payment and Care Delivery, The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

In partnership with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s new Rural Health Model flips the script on hospital care. By changing how hospitals are paid, the new model aims to reward hospitals for keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital altogether, replacing hospitals’ traditional model—treating patients when they are sick or injured. This new payment approach not only provides a critical measure of stability for hospitals and patients, but also for rural communities and jobs. Since starting work on this model several years ago, we’ve heard from over a dozen states, all asking: “Is it working?” This panel convenes stakeholders to share the Pennsylvania experience.


Community Benefit: What Boards and Executives Should Know (Governance Track) | 11:15am - 12:30 pm

Julie Trocchio, Sr. Director, Community Benefit & Continuing Care, The Catholic Health Association of the United States
Trina Hackensmith, Vice President, Lyon Software

Board members and executive leaders are responsible for ensuring that their organizations are faithful to their mission and fulfill their charitable tax-exempt purpose. Not-for-profit hospitals continue their mission of service by responding to community health needs and meet the IRS community benefit standard. This session will examine federal requirements governing hospital tax-exemption, including working with community partners to conduct community health needs assessment and plans to improve community health. It will cover the definition of community benefit and the rationale for what can and cannot be reported to the IRS as community benefit. You’ll gain a greater understanding of the role of the board and executive leadership in the community benefit arena.


Engaging Local Leaders to Drive Policy Changes and Care Delivery Innovations in Rural Communities | 3:00 - 4:45 pm

Sabra Rosener, Vice President, Government & External Affairs, UnityPoint Health

This session explores how policymakers, health systems and community leaders can work together to advance innovative care models and prepare for the future of the rural economy. You’ll gain an understanding of key policy changes needed to sustain health care in rural communities, such as establishing a rural emergency center designation, strengthening infrastructure and reimbursement for telemedicine services, expanding services provided by rural health clinics, and addressing barriers to workforce recruitment and retention. Learn how one rural health system successfully launched its own grassroots effort to engage rural communities and expand adoption of telemedicine and new care settings outside the walls of the traditional hospital, taking advantage of opportunities for public/private partnerships and rural/urban collaboration.


Making Your Board a Model of Governance Excellence (Governance Track) | 3:00 - 4:45 pm

Lyn Jenks, Governance Consultant, Munson Healthcare
Daniel Wolf, President and CEO, Dewar Sloan

Hospitals and health systems have made efficient operations, high quality and standardization of internal processes major elements of success—but what most of us have neglected to do is spend adequate time fully integrating these initiatives at the very top the organizations with our boards. Munson Healthcare studied what makes boards great, implementing an assertive program to build a benchmark model for system and local hospital governance. Learn how to boost board engagement in high-level decision making, improve overall satisfaction of board members, standardize and improve board recruitment, on-boarding, orientation and education, and more!


Tuesday, February 4


Rural Hospitals Can Use ACOs to Create a Statewide Clinically Integrated Network and Adopt Population Health Strategies | 10:15 - 11:15 am and 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Paul Gardner, VP, Rural Health/ACO, Mississippi Hospital Association
Joanie Perkins, Chief Compliance Officer, Sunflower Medical Center
Lynn Barr, CEO, Caravan Health

Succeeding in a risk-bearing ACO is possible regardless of a hospital’s size, whether leaders believe it can further reduce their Medicare spending, or if the organization is made up of affiliated (not employed) providers. This session will debunk the ACO myths and share a state association and a hospital’s experience in forming and participating in a statewide clinically integrated network. Learn how hospitals are joining forces in non-traditional ways to pool lives to negate the effects of variation in savings, achieve sustainable income, mitigate their risk, and provide better- coordinated care to patients. You’ll gain strategies for succeeding in value-based payment models and practical tips on program participation opportunities, applications, requirements, and timelines.


Strategies for Addressing the Challenges Faced by Rural Hospitals in Accessing and Integrating Behavioral Health Services | 10:15 - 11:15 am and 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Nancy-Ann DeParle, Partner & Co-Founder, Consonance Capital Partners; former Assistant to the President & Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy to President Barack Obama
Brett Altman, CEO, Cass County Health System
Shelly Russell, Chief Executive Officer, Mitchell County Regional Health Center

This panel will provide an overview of the different behavioral health models of care available to any rural hospital, specifically walking through key learnings of mental health support that do not require a federal or state grant to implement. You’ll hear directly from critical access hospital CEOs on how they were able to successfully overcome the unique challenges faced by rural hospitals in accessing and integrating mental health services in their community.


Rural Hospital Obstetric Care: What Do We Know, What Works and What Can Be Done | 10:15 - 11:15 am

Tom Morris, Associate Administrator, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, HRSA
Katy Backes Kozhimannil, PhD, MPA, Director, University of Minnesota Rural Health Research
John Cullen, MD, Providence Valdez Medical Center and President, American Academy of Family Physicians

Rural areas have seen a significant loss of hospital-based obstetric services in recent years, stressing rural hospital boards that face difficult decisions in deciding whether they can sustain OB services. This session will examine the scope of this challenge and the key factors that affect the ability to offer and maintain OB access. Learn how one CAH has been able to maintain its OB services and how the community sees it as an essential services. We’ll also feature a new awardee from the HRSA Rural Maternity Obstetrics Management and Strategies Pilot Program sharing how they will use the grant funding to develop a networked approach to ensuring access to rural OB and maternity services.


Telehealth: Identifying Solutions for Rural Communities to Address Provider Access and Patient Outmigration | 10:15 - 11:15 am

Brian Bossard, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bryan Telemedicine
Rebekah Mussman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Crete Area Medical Center

Health care in rural communities is at a tipping point, with many critical access hospitals struggling to respond to provider shortages and declining patient volumes. Bryan Telemedicine has adapted theoretical applications into real world practice, expanding far beyond simple video interactions between providers and patients. Hear this incredible journey of collaboration, call to action, overcoming obstacles, and the creation of best practice virtual care solutions that offer innovative and cost-effective solutions for patient care and positively impact the work life balance of rural providers.


Accelerated Strategic Planning for Rural and Critical Access Hospitals: Finding Solutions to Today’s Toughest Challenges (Governance Track) | 10:15 - 11:15 am

Dennis Burke, MSHA, President and CEO, Good Shepherd Health Care System
Guy Masters, MPA, Principal, Strategic Advisory, Premier Healthcare Solutions, Inc.

Is your current strategic plan an effective, confidence-inspiring roadmap for your hospital, offering clear direction with focused priorities to guide decisions by the board and senior leadership? Unfortunately many strategic plans could more accurately be described as operations improvement/resource allocation plans. This session will provide a customizable process and tools to enable boards and leadership to achieve a balance between governance and management and short- and long-term scenarios, resulting in a strategic planning framework that addresses top concerns and implications for patient services, financial performance, workforce stabilization, technology, expanded access, and changing demographics. Board members will learn how to hold management accountable for results based on clearly defined metrics and expectations, and in a consistent and timely fashion throughout implementation.


Transforming Care through Age-Friendly Health Systems | 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

The nation’s population over age 65 is projected to reach 83.7 million or 39% by the year 2050, an increase from 21% of the population in 2012. Age-Friendly Health Systems is an initiative of The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in partnership with the AHA and the Catholic Health Association of the United States. The initiative is designed to meet the needs of older adults, looking beyond acute events, engaging the whole community, and achieving better health for older adults. By focusing on four key areas—what matters, medications, mobility and mentation—we aim to improve patient care, safety and outcomes; improve patient and family engagement in care; and reduce length of stay and readmissions. This session will highlight the experiences of a rural hospital on the journey to achieve Age-Friendly status.


Managing Cybersecurity Risk in Health Care: The Leader’s Role | 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

John Riggi, Sr. Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk, Risk Advisory Services, American Hospital Association
Craig Moringiello, ASAC, FBI
Tom Jensen, CEO, Grays Harbor Community Hospital

Protecting health care organizations from cyberattack is a growing challenge. Health care data is highly attractive, the tactics used by potential hackers are constantly evolving, and significant information sharing within our environments places you uniquely at risk. And yet protecting your organization’s data extends beyond technical systems and processes; leadership from the top of the organization is critical to establish a culture of cybersecurity. Join us to explore best-practice leadership behaviors to reduce the likelihood and impact of a cyber event.


Is Being a District Hospital the Right Governance Model for Your Organization? (Governance Track) | 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Doug Faus, Chief Executive Officer, Ivinson Memorial Hospital
Lindsley Withey, Director, Strategic Advisory, Guidehouse
Kaitlyn Moore, Managing Consultant, Guidehouse

Government ownership of hospitals has a time and a place, but often rural hospitals find that they have outgrown the need for government support. Many hospitals have found that changing from a district hospital to a 501(c)3 non-profit hospital has given them the latitude to better meet the needs of their patients and their community. The process, however, is complicated. This session will help rural hospitals to evaluate what is needed to consider such a transition, the pros and cons of each model, and how best to implement the change should you choose this path. You’ll learn how to determine which model is right for your patients, your organization, your community, and your workforce.


Wednesday, February 5


The Safe Passage Initiative: Police Giving Hope to Addicts through the Tools for Recovery | 7:30 - 8:45 am and 9:00 - 10:15 am

David Schreiner, President/CEO, Katherine Shaw Bethea (KSB) Hospital
Danny Langloss, Jr., Dixon, Illinois Police Chief

Safe Passage is an addiction recovery initiative that allows those seeking treatment to contact police without fear of arrest, as long as they don’t have any outstanding warrants. People can also turn over drugs and paraphernalia without being charged. Learn how KSB Hospital and the Dixon Police Department partner with treatment centers in and outside of Illinois to coordinate care and treatment for participants. You’ll hear how they’ve successfully placed needy individuals into treatment and have been able to secure a treatment bed for a participant within two hours.


Improving Patient Safety by Building a Just Culture | 7:30 - 8:45 am and 9:00 - 10:15 am

Nick Marsico, VP, Ancillary Services/COO, Magruder Hospital
Linda Oman, Director, Risk Management & Compliance, Magruder Hospital

After its results on the AHRQ Survey on Patient Safety Culture declined, the leaders of Magruder Hospital undertook the necessary actions to transform its culture. This session will share what Magruder has learned about the importance of changing organizational culture to improve patient safety and drive fear out of the organization—resulting in improvement in every dimension (and on every question) on the 2018 survey between 9% and 41%. You’ll learn to recognize the differences between a just organization and one that is not, identify steps to drive fear from the organization, and understand how to utilize AHRQ survey results to identify and measure areas to improve.


Building Population Health through Innovation and Care Re-design | 7:30 - 8:45 am

Josh Martin, CEO, Summit Pacific Medical Center
Brian Haapala, Senior Vice President, Dougherty Mortgage

Working with its board, Summit Pacific Medical Center has established a positive vision for care transformation for the organization and community. The presenters will explore the myriad performance domains that must be successfully implemented to execute on this vision including the recruitment of providers supporting the care transformation vision, clinical workflow, and the design of facilities to support transformation. Because care transformation often requires a capital commitment, the session also will explore how to identify and match the sources of care transformation funding with what is available in the marketplace and how to secure a funding commitment early in the process to ensure transformation strategies are supported.


New Approaches to Effective Board Decision Making (Governance Track) | 7:30 - 8:45 am

James E. Orlikoff, President, Orlikoff & Associates, Inc.

The first thing any effective board or leadership group does is decide how it will make decisions. Further, effective boards develop different, clearly defined processes to make decisions of different magnitudes. Yet, many boards have never had an explicit conversation about or developed multiple approaches to this most critical of governance functions—their decision making. This session will outline several different, practical and effective decision making techniques to expand your board’s tool kit of processes and techniques for making effective decisions.


Exploring New Frontiers: Evolving Alignment Options between Health Systems and Rural Hospitals | 9:00 - 10:15 am

Justin Chamblee, Senior Vice President, Coker Group
Erika Rogan, PhD, Senior Associate Director, Policy, American Hospital Association

Numerous forces are driving rural hospitals to consider innovative affiliations with larger health systems, including rising IT and supply costs, limited provider/specialist access, commitment to rural markets/population in primary/secondary service areas, and management expertise. At the same time, historical affiliation models may still be appropriate in certain circumstances, including full acquisition, management, lease and joint operating arrangements. Evolving and less formal models as well may accommodate rural identity and independence, including preferred services arrangements, EPIC hosting, visiting specialists and other need-specific arrangements. This session will explore the myriad of options available to rural hospitals and communities, detailing best practices and potential pitfalls to consider with any affiliation strategy.


Interactive Governance Clinic (Governance Track) | 9:00 - 10:15 am

James E. Orlikoff, President, Orlikoff & Associates, Inc.

Bring your thorniest governance issues to one of the nation’s preeminent health care governance experts. You’ll gain practical solutions and proactive ideas for improving governance performance. This session will be very interactive and no issue is off the table, so come prepared to talk, to question and be challenged!