Healthcare News & Insights

4 big areas your hospital board must focus on this year

There are many issues that affect a hospital’s operations. But which ones should be top of mind for your hospital’s board this year? To prime your hospital for success in 2016 and beyond, it’s important to pinpoint the areas your board should prioritize now. 

ThinkstockPhotos-128935307Dr. Paul Keckley, the managing director of the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, recently wrote an article for Hospitals & Health Networks highlighting four areas hospital boards need to focus on to ensure success:

  1. Physician relationships and practice patterns. The feds are cracking down on all forms of physician fraud. And the hospitals they work for aren’t immune to punishment. Doctors’ business dealings are under the microscope. In particular, there’s more scrutiny being placed on Stark Law violations regarding kickbacks and violations of the False Claims Act. The growing trend toward physician employment at hospitals is also being examined to see if laws are being broken with referrals or financial perks. Boards need to be proactive and make sure all these arrangements are legit.
  2. Partnerships and affiliations. Hospital boards must know the nitty-gritty behind the relationships their facilities have with other hospitals, payors, vendors and business associates. They need to understand how each agreement affects the hospital’s operations – in both positive and negative ways. This helps board members make decisions that enhance successful partnerships, and end the unsuccessful ones.
  3. Performance risk. As payor reimbursement shifts from a fee-for-service structure to value-based payments, hospital boards must be aware of how their facilities’ performance in meeting quality benchmarks affects the bottom line. Boards should know the ins and outs of any financial agreements based on quality. A clear understanding of how hospitals are affected by their performance, and what they need to do to succeed, is necessary for each board member.
  4. Reputation risks. The impression a facility makes matters. Patients need to have trust in a hospital’s ability to provide high quality care. It’s the only way for facilities to survive and thrive amid growing regulatory pressures. Nowadays, reputation management is more complicated than ever. With the growing number of organizations that put out safety scores, hospital rankings, and reviews of hospitals and healthcare providers, there are many ways for potential patients to form an opinion of a facility before they even step inside its doors. Boards must be aware of the information that’s publicly available about each hospital, so they can create a game plan to boost their hospitals’ image.

How to proceed

To better address these issues, boards should be regularly evaluated for their effectiveness – specifically, whether the members of the board are diverse and accurately reflect your patient mix.

In fact, according to Dr. Keckley’s article, many top companies outside the healthcare space are looking at the diversity on their boards, as well as creating tenure limits. This ensures that more types of people are represented, which infuses new ideas into the decision-making process. Hospital boards should start using similar tactics.

Boards also need to be hands-on with hospital committees and departments, especially those that are working on initiatives in the above-mentioned areas, delegating tasks and holding them accountable for their results.

Now more than ever, it’s important for board members to be aware of the trends that are shaping the current healthcare climate, and to come to the table with innovative ideas to promote growth. This is the best way to set your hospital up to thrive.

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