The AHA's Committee on Performance Improvement recently issued the first in a series of reports examining advanced illness management.

AIM is a critical topic as more Americans live with chronic illnesses. It is not just about care at the end of life. Instead, AIM seeks to improve patient and family satisfaction, increase quality of care, reduce inefficiencies and increase care coordination for all patients with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

Hospitals are uniquely positioned to implement best practice strategies to integrate AIM into the normal continuum of care, and ensure that the wishes of the patient and his or her family are carried out by the entire multidisciplinary care team, according to the report "Advanced Illness Management Strategies."

Specifically, the report identifies three key strategies that hospitals should implement to pursue:

  1. Access: Patient access to AIM services can be increased greatly when all hospitals and care systems are able to support and deliver high-quality AIM.
  2. Workforce: Excellence in AIM depends upon educating and training all health care professionals to provide care over the continuum of health and decline.
  3. Awareness: Patient and family AIM awareness and understanding of the benefits of advanced illness planning and management can be significantly raised through communitywide strategies.

In addition, the report makes the case that integrating AIM into the continuum of care will support the transition to the second-curve business, care and service delivery model that was laid out in the CPI's September 2011 report "Hospitals and Care Systems of the Future."

Please see the column from CPI Chair James Diegel, president and CEO of St. Charles Health System in Bend, Ore., on page 35 for more on this important report and the role trustees can play in integrating AIM into their organizations. To download the report, visit www.aha.org/aimstrategies. And watch for a future committee report examining health care workforce education and community awareness strategies to support AIM initiatives.

Kimberly McNally, R.N., M.N. (kamcnally@att.net), is COG chair and a trustee of Harborview Medical Center/UW Medicine in Seattle.