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Challenges for Healthcare Leadership Boards

Healthcare has been a complicated, highly regulated industry for a long time. And, up to 2013 it was possible for the top executives and the boards that appoint them to count on an industry of relative stability and predictability.

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

The opinion leaders we talked to in the course of this research mentioned three types of healthcare board behaviours they believed to be crucial.

A solid board must insist on the correct information. It should emphasize the importance of quality and safety objectives and give trustees realistic targets. This includes making use of National Quality Forum-endorsed measures and developing a robust benchmarking strategy that identifies top performers and identifies the methods they employ. The aim is to empower trustees to challenge each hospital to improve the quality of their services and eliminate any errors.

The board should also seek trustees who are experts in the science of safety and quality (e.g. high reliability, Six Sigma) to be on and chair the quality committee of the board. 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 assist and guide the CEO and other employees in establishing and achieving the correct goals and ensuring that the healthcare leadership is doing all it can to improve performance.

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