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Do-Nothing Hospital Boards Are Dead

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, May 24, 2013

Helping to run a hospital or health system from a board seat has gotten complex over the years. The instability of healthcare brought upon by its unaffordability makes the job of hospital governance both difficult—and difficult to fill.

The cover story for this month's issue of HealthLeaders magazine is a bit of a departure for me. Though I regularly chat with hospital CEOs about business strategy, hospital operations, challenges and healthcare management trends that they're facing, I rarely have occasion to talk with board members—the CEOs' bosses.

It's they who have the often thankless job of approving and advising on strategy, who make difficult capital decisions, and who manage and facilitate communication and understanding between powerful interest groups—such as physicians and nurses.

Hopefully you have had chance to read the story. If not, I encourage you to, and not just because I wrote it. I encourage you to read it because helping to run a hospital or health system from a board seat has gotten much more complex, and finding people with the expertise and time to devote to board work is getting more difficult.


See Also: Building a Better Healthcare Board


Years ago, the most important function of a hospital board was deciding what to serve at the quarterly luncheon. I'm kidding, but there's a reason that was a running joke for so long. Boards didn't have to do much. Often they were political appointees. Little time was spent on oversight. Their second most important task was to rubber stamp what the administration wanted to do.

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1 comments on "Do-Nothing Hospital Boards Are Dead"


Betty Noyes (5/24/2013 at 1:47 PM)
I agree and remember the stress and hard work required as a Board Member.. but I also remember that the work linked to my values of making a positive difference in the health care of my community. I would hope that Board Members not loose site of that mission as they work on margin!