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Using a Strengths-based Approach to Organizational Change

Learn what differentiates leading health care organizations and how to move from a deficit-based to an asset-based mindset.


Health care organizations often determine opportunities for improvement by identifying gaps and problems. This is a deficit-based mindset.

However, leading organizations embrace their strengths by highlighting existing positive staff practices and qualities. This mindset is asset-based.

Jay Bhatt, D.O., senior vice president and chief medical officer of the American Hospital Association (AHA) and president of the AHA’s Health Research & Educational Trust, and two of his colleagues presented “Learning from Appreciative Inquiry: What Differentiates Leading Organizations?” at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) National Forum in December in Orlando, Fla.

Carol Wagner, R.N., senior adviser, high reliability, and Jordan Steiger, program manager at the AHA, joined Bhatt to discuss such vital issues as equity of care, improvement science, population health, safety, social determinants of health, strategic community alliances, workforce well-being and how to reimagine rural health care.

Having gleaned valuable learnings from various settings, including behavioral health and rehabilitation facilities, they explained how the principles of appreciative inquiry are a philosophical approach to organizational change stemming from a focus on best practices and strengths. These core principles will help hospitals and health systems to take meaningful steps toward change that will lead to saving more lives, preventing harm and creating joy in the health care workplace.

For a deeper dive into what differentiates leading health care organizations and to move from a deficit-based to an asset-based mindset, download these excellent resources: Delivering High Quality Behavioral Health Care: Practices and Innovations from Leading Organizations; and Enhancing Rehabilitation Care: Structures and Processes from Leading Organizations.

Bhatt provides eight valuable takeaways and observations from the IHI forum in his insightful Dec. 20 blog that you will want to read.

Additional AHA resources:

AHA Center for Health Innovation
The Value Initiative
Physician Alliance
Physician Leadership Experience
Institute for Diversity and Health Equity
AHA Strategic Alliances
HRET Hospital Improvement Innovation Network 2.0

Jay Bhatt, D.O.
Senior vice president and CMO
American Hospital Association