The role of a healthcare board of directors is to be the organization’s governing body. The board is responsible for oversight of all the processes, policies, and operations of the organization. A healthcare provider’s board of directors doesn’t get involved in the day-to-day operations for the provider. They have plenty of other duties and they are distinctly different than those of senior management.
In specific terms, a healthcare organization is responsible for making strategic decisions for the healthcare organization, hiring and monitoring an effective CEO, ensuring the organization is providing quality care, overseeing the hospital’s financial well-being, being a representative of the healthcare organization in the community, and staying educated in healthcare industry news and best practices.
The specific duties and responsibilities for board directors pertain to governance issues. Since part of their duties requires staying educated, it’s wise to get board member education that’s specifically related to governance matters in addition to having the right skills and expertise.
How and Where to Get Board Education
There is no lack of resources for governance training. It’s easy enough to find workshops online and in-person. The internet has a wealth of articles and information on every topic that falls under governance. Many boards find it helpful to bring in experts in various areas and ask them to give a presentation on a certain topic. Every person who has ever served on a board of directors is a candidate for mentoring another board director through the process.
The source of the training matters less than getting the right training that will help to fill any gaps in knowledge or skills.
Board Member Education on Planning and Strategy
An organization’s mission statement serves as a guide for the healthcare organization’s long-term goals and policies. Boards of newly formed healthcare organizations will need to establish mission, vision, and values statements. It’s important to put careful thought and consideration into these statements as they ultimately become the basis for all board decision-making. It often helps to have a third-party governance expert lead them through the process. The overall tone of the mission statement also impacts the policies, procedures, and decisions made by management.
For healthcare boards that are working with established mission, vision, and values statements, it’s important that board directors fully review and comprehend those statements as they will rely on them heavily throughout their board service.
Most boards will do a SWOT analysis as part of their annual strategic planning efforts. All board directors should be familiar with this process and give it careful consideration when the time comes. In addition, all board directors should be familiar with how to write a strategic plan that is forward-thinking. Strategic planning should account for short and long-term goals that are in alignment with the organization’s mission. Additional considerations for strategic planning include accounting for the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, risks, and opportunities, as well as the rapid pace of the marketplace and evolving and rapid changes in the healthcare industry.
Board Member Education on Recruitment of the CEO and Executive Team
One of the other main duties of boards is to hire the CEO, monitor his or her performance, set their compensation, and fire them if necessary.
While in the process of recruiting a new CEO, healthcare boards should avoid looking for a mirror image of the current CEO. The fast pace of the healthcare industry demands having CEOs that are equipped to meet the challenges of the future.
The responsibility for hiring and monitoring the CEO requires the board directors to know how to write the CEO’s job description and set realistic expectations that are also in alignment with the mission and strategic goals. With the recent scrutiny in the corporate world on executive pay, board directors would benefit from training on how to set up an attractive and fair executive compensation plan.
In taking responsibility for their managerial leadership, boards will also benefit from training on how to monitor the CEO’s performance and how to conduct a fair and unbiased annual performance review. If firing the CEO becomes necessary, the board needs to know when they have proper grounds for it and whether they need to obtain legal guidance in such a situation.
Board Member Education in the Healthcare Industry
Despite their particular area of expertise, every board should have a good understanding of the nuances of their industry. This is especially important in the healthcare industry where the quality of care is a top priority.
It’s important for healthcare boards to be familiar with management’s choices for hiring and reappointing service providers to ensure reliable, high-quality, and compassionate care. Along the same lines, boards need to carefully oversee policies that ensure that all medical staff have the proper credentials including having proof of training from an accredited school, no history of discipline from previous employers, having valid malpractice insurance, having valid board certifications, and following all other hiring processes.
Healthcare boards will also find it useful to obtain training on finance as they’re responsible for overseeing the organization’s financial health and ensuring that the organization is making the best use of its resources.
As a whole, the healthcare industry is undergoing a major transformation. Even those board directors that have expertise in the healthcare industry will benefit by staying current with the healthcare industry’s services, needs, and trends. Each board director should pursue continuing education to maintain a high level of industry knowledge.
Board Member Education on Dynamics and Relationship Building
Healthcare providers are a vital part of their communities and healthcare boards can be instrumental in helping their communities successful. Healthcare providers and their communities should work together to support one another and not be a drain on each other. In areas that have critical access hospitals, the relationship with the community has a direct correlation on the success of the hospital.
Whether they are incoming board directors or directors that have seasoned tenures, they can’t hope to know everything about governance. What they can do is to use the tools, such as a BoardEffect board management system to continually improve themselves. The more knowledgeable board directors are in the area of governance, the better it sets the stage for mentoring others.