Challenges for Healthcare Leadership Boards

For a long time healthcare has been a tangled and highly controlled enterprise. And, up to 2013, it was possible for top leaders and the boards that appoint them to count on a sector that has stability and predictability.

However, that has changed with the abrupt change of reimbursement and changes to standards for quality and safety for patients that are changing the way healthcare organizations function to remain competitive. These shifts have brought new challenges for healthcare leadership boards.

Opinion leaders we spoke with during the process of this research included three types of health board behaviours that they considered to be particularly important:

A strong board must insist that the correct information is available. It should emphasize the importance of quality and safety objectives and give trustees realistic goals. This means using measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum and developing an effective strategy for benchmarking that helps identify and comprehend best performers. The aim is to empower trustees so that they can challenge every hospital to improve the quality of their services and reduce errors.

The board should also appoint trustees with expertise in quality and safety science (e.g. high reliability, Six Sigma), to serve as chair and members of the Quality Committee. Ideally, these people could be drawn from other industries like aviation or nuclear power. This will ensure that the board has a specialist available to guide and support the CEO and other employees in setting and achieving their goals and that the healthcare leadership is doing all it can to enhance the performance.

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