The ACC’s Strategic Plan

Rapid advances in science and technology, uncertainty about systems of medical care delivery and growing demand for cardiovascular care at a time of workforce transition present extraordinary challenges and opportunities for cardiovascular medicine. In order to meet these challenges and meet the so-called “Triple Aim” of better care, better outcomes and lower cost, the ACC has developed a long-range strategic plan to increase the ability of its members to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health.

ACC member leaders and staff have met to scan the environment and craft strategies that address current member needs, as well as anticipate the needs of the future. In addition to examining the clinical, economic and organizational factors driving change in medicine, these leaders have developed strategic approaches that build on the core competencies of the organization to increase the effectiveness of members and optimize the role of cardiovascular professionals.

A New Plan to Meet New Challenges and Opportunities

The ACC’s current strategic plan was last comprehensively rewritten in 1999 with annual updates occurring in the years since, based on input from College leadership and an extensive environmental scan. Surprisingly, many issues have continued to resonate over time. Challenges articulated in a 2004 Journal of the American College of Cardiology President’s Page are remarkably similar to those highlighted by ACC members today: information overload, practical use of guidelines at the point of care, global cardiovascular health, liability concerns, shifting practice settings and workforce shortages.1

However, a great deal of change has also occurred over the past 13 years, both internal and external to the College. This new strategic plan is not only critical, but opportune, leveraging the College’s strengths while developing new skills and competencies that better fit the changing environment.

Increasing the Effectiveness of Each Member

Becoming even more focused on member needs and enhancing the value of the FACC and AACC designations are at the crux of increasing membership value and engagement. As the primary professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team, the ACC must work to reduce members’ burdens through training, education and the development of practical tools to navigate the changing professional and health care landscape. Given the organizational changes outlined above, this means an increased focus on subspecialty and special interest areas, as well as the optimization of ACC relationships with other cardiovascular societies and/or medical specialty groups. It also will require a focus on new ways to meet the varied needs of a growing cadre of cardiovascular care team members in various practice settings, as well as international cardiovascular professionals. Fellows in Training, training directors and early career professionals also need special attention in the new environment. Robust, personalized and continuous two-way dialogues will help build the next generation of leaders, and design tools and strategies for success.

Transforming Care, Improving Population Health and Shaping Public Policy

Through an increased focus on member value, the College will be even better situated to help its members transform care. Helping members thrive and deliver high quality, patient-centered, cost effective care in any delivery and reimbursement environment is at the heart of the strategic plan, particularly given the current transition from a volume-based health care environment to one that is focused on value. Doing this will require the ACC to define and support the optimal approach to team-based care, as well as identify the roles of cardiovascular specialists within the health care continuum. Integration of the “Triple Aim” into all of aspects of the College’s activities is also key and will require the College to continue to lead in the development of evidence-based clinical guidelines, appropriate use criteria and other clinical documents, as well as quality programs and tools that support the appropriate use of new, transformational scientific technologies and therapies, improved patient outcomes, and the closure of identified gaps in care delivery.

The College also has a role to play in supporting members in their expanded accountability to improve population health. This means pursuing transparent partnerships with medical professional societies, industry, payers, consumer companies and other stakeholders around patient education, primary prevention, quality improvement and other public health objectives related to cardiovascular disease. It also means expanding the reach of the ACC’s advocacy efforts, particularly among payers and state policymakers, to position the College as a leading voice in shaping public policy.

By empowering ACC members to become effective advocates for patients and cardiovascular professionals, as well as focusing on the College’s strengths and building strategic partnerships, the ACC is well positioned to help members address and overcome the disruption caused by the clinical and economic changes in the health care environment and ultimately transform the future of cardiovascular care around the world.

Purposefully Using Education, Data and Information

Care transformation will not happen overnight, and is dependent on ensuring that members have the most appropriate educational tools at their fingertips. Providing the right content to the right member at the right time, or purposeful education, is another overarching strategic theme for the College. It requires that the College provide and promote a personalized, competency-based, clinically relevant educational experience to all of its members. The digital superhighway will only continue to expand into the foreseeable future, offering paradigm-shifting opportunities to change the way both provider and patient education is delivered. It is critical for the College to embrace these changes and leverage new delivery technology and evolving learning methods to facilitate continuous performance improvement, optimal practice management and improved outcomes across patient populations.

Data, information and the development of knowledge also play a significant role in both education and care transformation and, as such, must be woven into all of the ACC’s efforts in order to accomplish the College’s mission. It is in the College’s best interest to pursue business opportunities and strategic alliances that recognize the ACC as a primary, trusted source of cardiovascular data collection, aggregation and reporting and allow for sharing of data to inform research and improve patient outcomes both in the U.S. and globally. Data, especially those collected within the NCDR’s suite of registries, can and should be leveraged to identify and close gaps in care, as well as serve as a rich source of clinical data for research, post-marketing surveillance and quality improvement. Linking educational programming to ACC’s registry data can also enhance members’ ability to achieve Maintenance of Certification credits and provide better care. From an organizational perspective, the College’s rich data resources offer opportunities for not only revenue generation, but to accurately inform critical mission areas. Data can also play vital roles in supporting members in their efforts to effect population health changes at national, state, local and facility levels.

Making the Strategic Plan Operational

The purpose of the strategic plan is to re-envision specialty care with the goal of positioning the ACC as the professional home for the entire cardiovascular care team. To accomplish this, the College is committed to:

  • Becoming even more focused on member value
  • Smartly using data, information and knowledge to accomplish organizational goals
  • Leveraging technology and forging partnerships to personalize education
  • Helping members thrive and transform care in any delivery and reimbursement environment
  • Supporting members in their expanded accountability to improve the health of populations
  • Shaping the future of public health policies

The end goal: to give the ACC the opportunity to realize its potential in transforming not only cardiovascular care, but also the people who deliver it.


1. Wolk M, Pepine C. President’s page: strengthening our house of cardiology. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2004;43(9):1721-1722. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2004.03.018.
2. Heidenreich P.A., Trogdon J.G., Khavjou O.A., et al; Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123:933-944.
3. White House. FACT SHEET: The Affordable Care Act: Secure Health Coverage for the Middle Class. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2013.
4. AAMC Center for Workforce Studies I, Recent studies and reports on physician shortages in the US.
5. Brindis R, Rodgers GP, Handberg EM. President’s Page: Team-Based Care: A Solution for Our Health Care Delivery Challenges. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011;57(9):1123-1125. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2011.02.003.
6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. FACT SHEET: National Health Expenditures 2011 Highlights. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2013.
7. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. FACT SHEET: National Health Expenditure Projections 2011-2021. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2013.
8. American College of Cardiology. New American College of Cardiology Practice Census Shows Continued Trend Towards Hospital Integration. Available at: Accessed October 21, 2013.

Keywords: Health Policy, Public Health, Organizational Objectives, Public Policy, Continuity of Patient Care, Societies, Medical, Cardiology, Data Collection, Cardiology Magazine, ACC Publications

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