As vice president of the American Hospital Association’s division of personal membership groups, Dale Woodin is helping to shape the valuable content these organizations deliver to leaders within their facilities. This month, we ask him where these groups are headed in 2017 and beyond.

Dale Woodin

The Woodin File


  • Vice president of the American Hospital Association’s division of personal membership groups, providing leadership and strategic direction for overall performance of the division’s eight membership societies and the Certification Center
  • Former executive director of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering


  • More than 30 years of health care experience, including 18 in hospital facilities management
  • Author of numerous articles on topics ranging from energy efficiency to construction, ventilation, medical telemetry, hand-hygiene products, fire modeling and waterborne contaminants
  • Serves on Joint Commission Hospital Advisory Council


  • Bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

What role do the personal membership groups (PMGs) serve? 

When folks think of the American Hospital Association (AHA), they naturally think of institutional members, health care organizations that are members of the AHA. But just as important, individual professionals who serve these health care institutions are also AHA members, organized as a member of a professional society or association within the AHA. These individual members, typically vice presidents or directors, are responsible for providing vital strategic and operational services for their institutions. Just as no organization is an island, professional members interact and network to share best practices, innovative solutions, patient-centered designs, and to establish professional standards. These thought leaders push the boundaries of what is possible in improving patient comfort, safety and outcomes, all in support of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Triple Aim. Better professionals make for better health care organizations, which leads to better patient care.

What are some of the PMG initiatives being undertaken to improve hospital operations?

The programs of the PMGs are vast and varied, but all have a single goal: to improve patient care. 

The Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management’s (AHRMM) Cost, Quality, and Outcomes (CQO) movement assists health care organizations to understand their total costs — cost of ownership of supplies, cost of procedures, and cost of delivered care. All of these factors affect clinical outcomes and influence reimbursement levels.

The American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) is collaborating with AHA’s Health Resources & Educational Trust (HRET) on a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop practical guidance on how specific elements and processes within the built environment can reduce the potential for health care-associated infections (HAIs). Currently in the investigative stage, ASHE and its partners will produce practical tools for use during new construction and in existing environments to improve hand hygiene, protect patients from airborne and waterborne pathogens, and improve the efficacy of cleaning spaces and equipment.

Research and evidence support the emergence of the health care environment as an important factor in the transmission of microorganisms, the reduction of HAIs, and in patient and worker safety. A clean, properly disinfected and quiet environment affects the patient care experience and has a direct impact on satisfaction, safety and costs. The Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) established the Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Technician certification program — based on a comprehensive nationwide job analysis of a health care environmental services technician’s responsibilities — to raise the standards of the profession, assuring consistent techniques based on proven outcomes.

Why did ASHE, AHE and AHRMM develop the Roadmap to Sustainability website?

Health care organizations face unrelenting pressure to decrease costs while maintaining high-quality outcomes. These three groups realized that as large consumers of utilities, supplies and generators of waste products, health care organizations were perfectly suited to utilize sustainability principles and practices to reduce costs while improving efficiency, allowing organizations to reinvest those savings directly into improving patient care. By working together, ASHE, AHE and AHRMM were able to create a broader reach, across all three professions, to demonstrate how collaboration led to a much deeper impact in process improvement and cost efficiencies. Often, we have found that health care organizations have a strong interest in sustainable practices but need a place to start. The sustainability roadmap was developed as an open resource for sharing proven practices with measurable outcomes.

Can you elaborate on the focus of the AHA’s other personal member groups? 

In addition to the three societies I've mentioned, the PMG division also includes the following:

  • The Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD) is the voice and resource for health care strategists, planners, marketers, and communications and public relations professionals nationwide. SHSMD is committed to helping its members meet the future with greater knowledge and opportunity as their organizations work to improve the health status and quality of life in their communities.
  • The American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) promotes effective and innovative risk-management strategies and professional leadership. ASHRM initiatives focus on developing and implementing safe and effective patient care practices, the preservation of financial resources and the maintenance of safe working environments.
  • The American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA) advances the human side of health care, leading the way for highly effective, valued and credible leaders. ASHHRA initiatives include workforce planning, advocacy labor updates and HR metrics.
  • The Association for Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals (AHVRP) is the premier professional membership society for health care volunteer services, retail operations and related support services disciplines. AHVRP collaborates with the AHA on public policy and advocacy issues related to health care volunteer services and retail operations.

What types of resources are available exclusively to members of the PMGs?

Each society shares a common mission of member education, thought leadership and collaboration through networking. By convening and nurturing their thought leaders, each society consistently produces cutting-edge education, resources and tools, including: white papers, practice guide, assessment processes, regulatory compliance toolkits, user data, performance standards and metrics. These resources often are available at no charge as a basic member benefit. In addition to content resources, each society has a professional leadership development program that encourages members to broaden their perspective, improve strategic thinking, and improve the depth and value of their contributions to their institutions.

How do the PMGs help to inform regulatory agencies in the process of writing codes, standards or guidelines that shape the hospital work environment? 

Each society convenes an advocacy and/or regulatory affairs committee that monitors the pulse of industry trends and emerging regulations. The societies often participate on technical committees and research teams to ensure that codes are based on science, economically defensible, and improve patient care, safety, and comfort. PMG members often work side by side with the AHA's government relations team to develop positions, influence policy and raise the awareness of elected officials on critical issues that impact the delivery of care. Besides bringing a voice to member concerns, each society works closely with subject matter experts within their respective professions to develop regulatory briefs, guidance, analysis and action items to help members understand complex regulatory issues.

Where are the PMGs headed as we look into 2017?

Each society has developed a clear strategy and robust tactics to organize members of their professions in taking meaningful actions to improve the quality of the patient care delivery system; ensure the safety of patients, family members and care providers; and create sustainable and effective environments for the provision of care. These initiatives cover a wide range of topics and can vary from ensuring proper filtration and ventilation in operating room suites, to enterprise risk management to ensure a comprehensive approach to quality improvement. 

Although focused on addressing the most important topics in each of their respective professions in a timely and relevant manner, societies often will work together and with AHA leaders to provide a broader, comprehensive approach to issues facing health care organizations, such as combating community violence, emergency preparedness and precautions to prevent the spread of a new or emerging infectious disease.

I encourage readers to visit the PMG societies' websites frequently to see the depth and breadth of the efforts to assist hospitals in quality improvement and operational efficiences, and consider becoming a member. You’ll immediately see the impact on your professional growth and feel a sense of community through high-level educational opportunities, access to a multitude of resources, and the camaraderie and helpfulness of fellow members