By Tyler Hale
Every year, hospital CEOs, trustees, nurses and other health care professionals gather for the Arkansas Hospital Association (AHA) meeting and trade show to learn about the hottest topics and cutting-edge developments in the industry.
Now in its 88th year, the meeting – and the Hospital Association – show no signs of slowing down. During this three-day convention, health care professionals of all stripes attend lectures and panels, participate in continuing education and network with other industry professionals.
The annual meeting is the Arkansas Hospital Association’s marquee event for all of its members. Lyndsey Dumas, AHA vice president of education, says the meeting is an opportunity for AHA members to come together for a broad overview of the developments in the health care community. “It’s our big membership meeting. We have other meetings throughout the year that are geared towards different areas of the hospital such as nursing, quality and marketing and many others. This is a chance for everybody to come together,” she says.
During the convention, attendees will participate in a wide range of activities, including panel discussions and workshops. The discussions and workshops will touch on both skills training and policy issues. “We always focus on leadership as a key driver in improvement,” Dumas says. “We also focus on any political issues that will affect our state.”
The meeting will kick off on Wednesday, Oct. 3 with a workshop entitled “The Refreshing Leader,” led by Kirk Wisler, a former U.S. Army Ranger and current Chief Morale Officer. For this workshop and other events throughout the convention, attendees can earn continuing education hours that can be applied towards various qualifications.
Each year, the AHA organizes a Healthcare Reform Breakfast, in which an industry leader highlights a major topic facing hospitals. This year, Ken Kaufman, managing director and chair of Kaufman, Hall & Associates of Skokie, Ill., will address the challenges facing legacy health care providers, including traditional hospitals. Kaufman will discuss disruption in health care systems and how hospitals can adapt to remain relevant and improve their cost structures. “Hospitals are rethinking how they provide care and what the patient experience looks like,” Dumas says.
Attendees can also learn how to increase the reliability of their health systems through good leadership and improved organizational processes. Dr. Michael Shabot, CMO of Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston will tackle how to increase reliability and sustainability in hospitals.
For the 2018 keynote address, the AHA wanted to make a bigger splash than in previous years. While the AHA staff always looks for speakers with interesting keynote topics, this year they were aiming for a speaker with more star power.
And they landed one.
This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein. Famed for breaking the Watergate cover-up story with fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, Bernstein will provide a behind-the-scenes view of this historic time. His stories will help illuminate this era of American history from a personal perspective.
According to Dumas, Bernstein will not shy away from political topics during his keynote. From Watergate to Donald Trump, Bernstein will be offering his unvarnished assessments. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a keynote speaker who’s been a political speaker. It’s always a risk,” Dumas says. “He’s going to hit on Watergate and behind the scenes of that. He’s also going to pull in some current information about the current administration and take some questions and answers.”
During the conference, the AHA will hold its annual trade show at the Statehouse Convention Center. Featuring over 100 exhibitors and vendors, the trade show is an opportunity for hospital representatives to see the services and products available in the market that could benefit their system. Vendors will range from construction companies to insurance companies to graphic design firms. “It runs the gamut of anything that a hospital or health system might need,” Dumas says.
The AHA will also honor health care professionals during its awards dinner on Thursday. The AHA will hand out the Diamond Awards, which honor hospital public relations and marketing professionals, and the C. E. Melville Young Administrator of the Year Award. The recipient of the AHA’s highest honor, the A. Allen Weintraub Memorial Award, will also be recognized.
The main takeaway from the gathering, to Dumas, is the networking opportunity. Meeting health care professionals from across the state helps hospitals large and small to improve their offerings and builds relationships.
“No matter the size of the hospital, in today’s digital world there is value in speaking with each other face-to-face. This is an excellent opportunity for health care individuals from across the state to network with one another,” Dumas says.
The 88th annual Arkansas Hospital Association will be held Wednesday, Oct. 3, through Friday, Oct. 5, at the Little Rock Marriott and Statehouse Convention Center.