As we find ourselves in the throes of yet another hard-fought election cycle, it's easy to lose sight of the longer-term issues facing the health care field. But, regardless of what happens when the votes are counted, hospitals will continue to redefine their roles as they develop new and innovative ways to serve patients.

The American Hospital Association's (AHA's) Environmental Scan provides an enlightening view of 11 key trends facing health care organizations as they plan for the coming year.

Published annually by Health Facilities Management's (HFM's) sister publication, Hospitals & Health Networks, this year's report looks at consumers and patients, economy and finance, information technology and eHealth, insurance and coverage, physicians, government, provider organizations, quality and patient safety, science and technology, workforce and transforming care delivery.

Although it was written for the highest levels of hospital administration, one is immediately struck by the wide influence of many of these trends on HFM's broad professional readership.

Under consumers and patients, for instance, the importance of “great customer service” is echoed by the impressions environmental services and other HFM professionals make as hospital staff members frequently come in contact with patients and families.

Likewise, the information technology and eHealth section's discussion of “virtual communication” brings to mind the work of facilities engineers and others in developing medical-grade wireless infrastructures for the nation's health care facilities.

And, in the transforming care delivery section, the projection of “more than 2,800 retail clinics by 2018” underscores the work of designers and related professionals in bringing the functionality of these structures up to the level of the acute care setting.

As health care organizations move from volume to value in an unpredictable financial and regulatory environment, HFM's readers are being asked to help usher in an era of unprecedented change in the way facilities serve their communities.

To learn more about the overall trends shaping these changes and to find out where your next professional challenges likely will lie, download the 2017 AHA Environmental Scan today.