Named executive director for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) last fall, Patrick (P.J.) Andrus has a long history with the organization he has been selected to lead. This month, Andrus tells Health Facilities Management about the challenges facing ASHE members and how the organization is helping them to prepare.
The Andrus File
- Executive director of the American Society for Healthcare Engineering of the American Hospital Association, Chicago
- Certified Association Executive through the American Society of Association Executives
- Staff lead on ASHE’s collaboration with the Health Research & Educational Trust to obtain a research grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advance infection prevention and control efforts for hospitals
- Led development and expansion of Inside ASHE from an eight-page newsletter to a 70-plus-page magazine with quality content that serves as ASHE’s primary communication channel for ASHE and a top member benefit
- Led the expansion of the Energy to Care program to more than 2,000 participating facilities and more than $65 million in cost savings for hospitals
- Previously served as ASHE’s marketing manager, director of business development and deputy executive director of operations
- DePaul University, Chicago, master's degree in business administration
- University of Dayton (Ohio), bachelor's degree in business administration
How have your prior roles with ASHE prepared you to lead the membership?
Working for ASHE has been an incredible experience both personally and professionally. I joined ASHE in 2005 in a marketing role with a focus on creating awareness of the value of ASHE membership, programs and initiatives within all areas of the organization. At the time, ASHE had about 6,000 members and an expanding education portfolio. As the organization grew — we currently have more than 12,000 members — there were opportunities to take on new responsibilities. As I moved through leadership roles in different areas of the organization, such as marketing manager, director of business development and most recently as deputy executive director overseeing all of ASHE’s operations, I gained broader experience and knowledge of the organization.
At each point on my career path with ASHE, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside our members, including our ASHE program faculty, committee and task force volunteers, and ASHE leadership in the boardroom. Every interaction was an opportunity to learn directly from the members about their challenges and, more importantly, how ASHE could support them as they faced these issues. Another key component of my professional development has been the incredible team members with whom I have worked over the years. The opportunity to be supported and mentored by Dale Woodin, the American Hospital Association’s vice president of the professional membership groups, and the entire ASHE team have been integral to my professional development.
How has the organization evolved during your time at ASHE?
ASHE has changed in several ways over the past 11 years to serve the shifting needs of members. The majority of this evolution occurred through the development and implementation of strategic planning to serve our members better, but there also have been occasions in which ASHE had to react to external changes affecting the field. To ensure that ASHE’s strategic goals are timely and relevant to the constantly changing economic, political and health care landscapes, we transitioned from a static, five-year strategic plan to a more nimble and effective process of planning strategically. Under this revised model, ASHE’s board reviews and refines strategic goals on an ongoing basis to ensure that long-range strategies contribute to ASHE’s mission of optimizing the health care physical environment and providing members with the benefits they need.
Through this process, ASHE adopted a knowledge-based culture in all areas of the organization to support nimble decision‐making systems that can respond efficiently and effectively to the changes affecting our field. For example, a key milestone that we reached during this transition was the expansion of the board to include two associate director seats. As ASHE’s membership expanded, its board wanted to ensure representation and diversity. Another example is the evolution of ASHE’s committee structure. In 2015, committees shifted from being structured by organizational areas — membership, chapters, education and advocacy — to a model that aligns the work of the committees with ASHE’s strategic imperatives of sustainability, succession planning, member value and regulatory affairs.
Through the work of our dedicated board, committees and staff, there have been many new initiatives, resources, programs, member benefits and tools that support ASHE’s mission. Their incredible work has helped to grow ASHE and will continue to carry the organization into the future.
What are some of the initial areas that you’re examining as you assume the role of executive director?
In late 2016, we conducted an in-depth member survey to inform our decision-making and ensure that our goals are aligned with the needs of the members. The results provide excellent insights on the challenges our members are facing and how ASHE can continue to support them. After an initial review, there is validation that we are focused on the right issues. However, the survey offers a wealth of feedback and will be used to support our strategic and operational decisions.
In addition, we are assessing our organizational structure to ensure the necessary bandwidth to meet the needs of our members. In 2017, we will bring on two new team members to support ASHE’s advocacy program, as well as a program manager to help support ASHE’s sustainability programs. These are two areas that provide direct support and guidance to ASHE members. We also will look at how we can continue to expand our reach. As a trusted source of information, our ability to provide relevant and timely information and education to members is critical. We will be focused on maximizing our efforts to deliver information, resources and guidance to our members while maintaining the high level of quality they have come to expect from ASHE.
What are your top priorities for the new year?
In addition to advancing the strategic imperatives of ASHE, a top priority is to ensure that we are continually growing the value of ASHE membership. We have been successful in creating timely information and resources for our members. One priority will be to identify how we can continue to advance our communications infrastructure and simplify access to member resources so that we are informing our members on changes affecting them while continuing to develop new member resources, tools and guidance. Another priority will be to focus on the development of CHFM exam preparation resources for members who plan to obtain the certification.
Going forward, how will ASHE address the issue of sustainability, which is one of its strategic imperatives?
ASHE continues to make sustainability a strategic priority as it directly supports the mission of the organization. We are committed to helping members manage facility assets effectively to help direct additional resources toward patient care.
How would you characterize the growth and evolution of ASHE’s Energy to Care program?
Through the hard work of the ASHE board, team members, committee members, program partner and, of course, our members, Energy to Care has shown steady and consistent growth. This program provides members with a free benchmarking dashboard to provide better insight into their energy data, as well as an awards program to recognize them for their efficiency accomplishments. In December 2014, there were about 604 facilities in the Energy to Care program; two years later, we eclipsed 2,000 facilities.
What kind of work has ASHE been doing in succession planning, which is another imperative?
ASHE has been working to promote the value of the health care facilities profession. Our director of leadership development, Tim Adams, has built relationships with a number of universities to encourage curriculum development focused on health care facility management. Just recently, we announced that the New York Institute of Technology launched a new fully online certificate program that includes specialized courses for health care facility managers.
Previously, ASHE collaborated on the development of the Owensboro Community & Technical College’s Healthcare Facilities Leadership program, which is a distance learning program that provides graduates with an associate in applied sciences degree. ASHE also developed and launched an internship program to partner interns who are looking for hands-on experience with host organizations seeking talent for the future. ASHE also launched a new education program — Beyond Competency: Health Facility Leadership Skills Development — to help members in their career goals. And we published a new monograph — Promoting the Value of the Facility Department to the C-Suite — to help members show their value to hospital leaders.
How is your strategic imperative regarding member value being addressed?
We want our members to feel that their ASHE membership is worth far more than their membership dues or investing time in the organization. One of the services that ASHE members value most is guidance on codes and standards. In 2016, we saw major code changes, including the adoption of the 2012 Life Safety Code and new emergency preparedness regulations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. ASHE not only alerted members to these changes within hours of their adoption, but also provided resources, a webinar series and tools to help members adjust to these changes. At our conferences, we bring together compliance experts from leading organizations to explain firsthand new requirements and keep members ahead of changes. And our Focus on Compliance project provided in-depth resources on top Joint Commission findings.
Many members face restricted travel budgets, and to produce additional value to these members, we have developed additional online educational opportunities and expanded cost-effective hosted educational programs. In 2016, we launched three new online courses (on life safety, NFPA 99 and electrical systems), and have more in development. In addition, we created an On Demand archive of former webinars and conference recordings. These are just a few examples of ways we provide member value; we will be working in 2017 to continue providing new benefits and resources and to make it easy for members to access the information they need when they need it.