Challenges for Healthcare Leadership Boards

Healthcare has been a tangled, highly regulated industry for decades. In the past, it was possible for top leaders and the boards who oversee them to count on an industry that had stability and predictability.

This changed when reimbursements and patient safety standards were altered. These changes are transforming the way healthcare organizations function in order to remain competitive. These shifts have created new challenges for healthcare boards.

Opinion leaders we spoke with during the course of this study identified three kinds of healthcare board behaviours they believed to be especially important:

A solid board must ensure that the right information is available. It must stress the importance of quality and safety goals and give trustees realistic targets. This means using measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum and developing an effective benchmarking strategy healthcare leadership boards of directors that identifies and understands best performers. The aim is to empower trustees to challenge each hospital to improve the quality of their services and eliminate mistakes.

The board must also seek the help of trustees who are experts in the science of quality and safety (e.g., high reliability, Six Sigma) to be on and chair the quality committee of the board. In ideal circumstances, these people could be drawn from other industries such as aviation or nuclear power. This will ensure that the board has a specialist on hand to guide the chief executive officer and other staff members in setting and achieving the appropriate targets, and also ensuring that the healthcare leadership team is doing everything it can to improve performance.

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