A push to rename the American Hospital Association to reflect massive structural changes in the healthcare industry seems to be bogging down.
"It looks as though there's no driving force to do anything with the name itself," said Richard Wade, the AHA's senior vice president for communications.
In March 1996, AHA President Richardson Davidson and AHA executives disclosed to Crain's Chicago Business, a sister publication of MODERN HEALTHCARE, that the association was undergoing a sweeping reorganization that could result in a name change. At the time Davidson said any such change would happen during 1998, making a splash during the AHA's centennial year.
The possibility of taking on a new moniker was hashed out by the AHA's nine regional policy boards, or RPBs, which met last month.
While it's still too early to tell what the AHA ultimately will do, a wholesale change in the name seems less likely.
Before the recent meetings, Wade said the AHA surveyed some of the more than 300 people who serve on the RPB boards about the name change.
About 45% of the people don't want the name changed, while another 45% said a disclaimer should be added to more fully describe the AHA's evolving membership. The remaining 10% of the RPB members weren't sure what to do.
"There's enormous pride and equity in the name," Wade said.
Wade said some members have raised the issue of changing the name.
Over the past two years, the nation's largest hospital group has toyed with the idea of changing its name to be more inclusive of its membership, which no longer revolves around freestanding hospitals.
For example, late last year the AHA board voted to allow integrated delivery systems to join as full-fledged members for the first time (Dec. 15, 1997, p. 2).
"I think a lot of the folks actually like it the way it is," Philo Hall, chairman of RPB 1, said about the AHA name. Hall is the former chief executive officer of 275-bed Central Vermont Medical Center, Barre.
Hall said his RPB, which represents six Northeastern states, didn't come to a consensus on what to do about the name.
Discussion about the name change likely will continue.
The subject could be back on the agenda for the RPBs when they meet in June.
Wade said reports from this round of RPB meetings will be forwarded to the AHA's 16-member strategic planning committee for review.
That committee might then make a recommendation to the AHA board, which could decide to drop the name issue or move ahead with it, Wade said.
The AHA board is scheduled to meet April 26-29 during its annual retreat in Laguna Niguel, Calif.