Why This Relationship is Critical for the Success of Both Organizations
By Megan Reeves
Most hospital associations identify as the principal advocate for their respective state's hospitals and healthcare systems. While they exist to serve and support, their essential value is sometimes overlooked or taken for granted. In this post, we’ll cover some of the top reasons hospitals need their state associations and how this partnership can be crucial to growth. We’ll also touch on why hospitals are critical to the associations as well. It’s a symbiotic relationship, and its value increases the more each partner invests in the other.
Reason 1: Federal and State Lobbying
As stated on the Indiana Hospital Association website, “The American health care industry is in the midst of profound transformation, much of it driven by legislative action.” State hospital associations represent their member hospitals at the state and federal level. They work to advance health policies important to their states, and through their lobbying efforts, they ensure lawmakers understand how the decisions they make have a direct impact on the healthcare within their state. Associations often advocate for issues related to hospital and patient finances, covering topics like value-based payment and surprise billing. In the case of states with a large rural healthcare presence, state associations and organizations can be pivotal in their opposition to laws, regulations, and funding changes that create operational and financial challenges to rural healthcare organizations.
For the Stratasan team, this function is one of the top reasons we partner with state hospital associations. By allowing associations to focus on this fundamental purpose and their unique expertise, Stratasan frees up as much time a possible spent on data aggregation and analytics. We take the arduous tasks of data processing and analysis off the plates of our association partners to allow them to focus on what’s really important—political advocacy efforts on behalf of their state healthcare providers.
Reason 2: Education and Networking
From publications to events (and increasingly, even podcasts and other digital media like those from the New Mexico Hospital Association), associations provide immense resources related to healthcare topics and other educational information applicable to several roles and responsibilities within the hospitals or health systems. Additionally, hospital associations provide seemingly innumerable opportunities for disparate hospital teams to come together and become familiar with the work being done within each organization. Often at annual conferences and user groups, opportunities for continuing education and ACHE credits are available. These targeted opportunities are of significant value to those working in healthcare because they provide updated information around advocacy efforts and the political climate as well as benchmarking and case studies for what is going on within other organizations. These efforts and shared information are a common thread joining peers and contemporaries in healthcare, as they provide reasons to spend time together and unite around common causes. Moreover, state hospital associations often give healthcare organizations access to technical assistance, training, and learning collaboration across a wide range of topics.
Associations also offer the opportunity for professional development and job networking. Members can gain leadership experience and make connections by sitting on association boards; many states have various boards focusing on unique topics. Some associations even have professional development tracks available for members. Finally, association membership provides a way for hospitals to gain recognition for the work they are doing. Whether focused on particular initiatives or celebrating more widely visible topics like hospital leadership recognition, association members have numerous opportunities to share the good work taking place within their walls.
Reason 3: Data Services
The Indiana Hospitals Association points out a common fact: there’s no shortage of healthcare data. The difficulty is in making sense of all the data available to healthcare decision makers. Nationwide, the majority of state hospital associations or departments of health provide their members with reliable resources to help them more effectively analyze trends, develop strategic growth strategies, and improve the quality of care they provide to their communities. Stratasan works with associations to increase the quality and usability of data in a variety of ways:
- Data capture and accurate, complete analysis
- Game-changing data visualization tools
- Quality metrics and competitive insight
- The ability to create growth plans based on a 360-degree view of the market
- Software to build board-level presentations
- Easy access to updated intelligence every time new data is available
The best associations are in a continuous improvement process to make submitted data better based on what their members flag as important. For example, if there is inconsistency in physician detail being reported or if ER volume capture is a problem, then by working with your hospital association, you can illuminate these kinds of challenges and needs. In doing so, your association can bring these topics to the forefront of their efforts.
Associations can also help member hospitals ensure they are legally compliant, meeting both state regulations and Medicare standards. They can ensure members are up-to-date on the latest healthcare news through their publications and Town Hall style forums—such as those offered by the Texas Hospital Association. Finally, associations can provide access to preferred and vetted vendors, such as Stratasan, who can help with a wide range of needs, including CHNAs and strategic planning engagements.
Why Associations Need their Member Hospitals
As shared previously, the relationship between hospitals and associations is bi-directional. Yes, hospitals and health systems need their associations. But associations also need their hospital members. Ultimately, the members and participating facilities are the lifeblood of any association. Many associations are partially funded through membership dues, and the larger the variety and quality of services offered, the more opportunity associations have to generate revenue. It goes far beyond that, though. If there are healthcare challenges needing to be addressed through the state, it’s through their member connections that associations can truly communicate and connect with their hospitals to address those needs.
More than anything, state hospital associations need engaged members. The symbiotic relationship between hospitals and associations only becomes more valuable the more each side invests in the other. The more members engage, the more associations know how to help. The more associations can identify trends and craft strategies around them, the more they can advocate for the hospitals in their states. While traditionally hospital c-suites have been the most engaged with their associations, Stratasan is seeing increases in the breadth of healthcare professionals engaging with their associations. Often, we work in tandem with association professionals and hospital strategic planners, quality representatives, and physician relations professionals.
If you’re a member of an association, you have the responsibility of engagement—not just at the c-suite level, though buy-in from the top remains important. But it’s a wide range of hospital and health systems teams who can benefit from a strong relationship with their state hospital association. Associations can help you do your job more effectively and can equip you to make a greater impact within the communities you serve.
For more information on how Stratasan’s software and services can facilitate association and hospital relations, while informing and empowering hospital growth, contact us and schedule a discovery call today.
Article by Megan Reeves, VP, Association Partnerships at Stratasan