Challenges for Healthcare Leadership Boards

For a long time, healthcare has been a difficult and highly regulated enterprise. Up to 2013, it was possible for top leaders and the boards that oversee them to count on an industry with relative stability and predictability.

This was changed when reimbursements as well as patient safety standards were changed. These changes are altering the way healthcare organizations work in order to stay competitive. These changes have created new challenges for healthcare boards.

In the course of our study, we spoke with opinion leaders who mentioned three kinds of behaviors of healthcare boards they believed to be particularly significant:

A reputable board should insist on the correct information. It should emphasize the importance of safety and quality goals and provide trustees with specific goals. This means using measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum and developing a solid benchmarking strategy that can identify and comprehend the top performers. The aim is to empower trustees so that they can challenge every hospital to improve their quality and eliminate mistakes.

The board should also appoint trustees with experience in safety and quality science (e.g. high reliability, Six Sigma), to serve as members and chair of the Quality Committee. Ideally, these people could be drawn from other industries, such as nuclear power or aviation. This will ensure that the board has an expert who can guide the chief executive officer and other staff members in setting and achieving the appropriate goals and ensuring that healthcare leadership is doing all that it can to improve performance.

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