Challenges for Healthcare Leadership Boards

For decades, healthcare has been a tangled and highly controlled enterprise. Until 2013, senior leaders and the boards that oversee them could count on a system that was stable and predictable.

However, that has changed with the advent of an unprecedented shift in reimbursement as well as changes in the quality and safety of patients, which are reshaping how healthcare organizations operate to stay competitive. These shifts have created new challenges for healthcare boards.

In the course of this research, we talked to opinion makers who highlighted three types of behavior patterns in healthcare boards that they believed to be particularly significant:

A strong board must insist that the right information is made available. It must stress the importance of safety and quality goals and give trustees concrete targets. This involves utilizing National Quality Forum-endorsed measures and creating a robust benchmarking strategy that pinpoints the best performers and can understand the processes they employ. The aim is to empower trustees so that they can push each hospital to improve the quality of their services and reduce errors.

The board should also seek the help of trustees with expertise in the science of quality and safety (e.g. high reliability, Six Sigma) to serve on and chair the quality committee of the board. The ideal is for these individuals to be drawn from other industries like aviation or nuclear power. This will ensure that the board has a specialist who can guide the chief executive officer and other staff Recommended Site members in setting and achieving the appropriate targets and making sure that healthcare leadership is doing all that it can to enhance performance.

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