Healthcare News & Insights

5 areas hospital boards need to watch for future success

Many hospital CEOs are under a lot of pressure to improve care, health information security and reduce spending. But there are ways a hospital’s board of directors can support their CEOs efforts. 

493373147Paul Keckley, a leading health economist and contributor to Hospitals and Health Networks, has noted that hospital boards need to understand the areas of the industry changing now if they want their facilities and CEO to keep up with the times.

These are the areas that Keckly believes board of directors need to focus on for future success:

Unnecessary Care

Directors will have to work harder to keep hospital management and staff accountable for providing the highest care-quality possible.

Why?

Because it’s looking like value-based care is going to be the new norm for healthcare providers. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is stepping up scrutiny and punishments for providers that still focus on quantity over quality of patient care — be it through needless prescribing, testing or generally not following evidence-based best care practices.

And it’s not just healthcare providers the feds will be leaning on to create a more patient-center health industry. A recent report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology states that in order to implement system-engineering principles which can redesign healthcare processes around patients, insurers will have to shift completely to a value-based system of reimbursement.

So as insurers and government agencies pressure providers to improve care quality, board members will also have to learn how to center their operations around patients. As Keckley puts it, “A board not clear on the fundamentals of evidence-based practices, and the management of treatment options not in sync with best practices, is not a board prepared for the future.”

Physician Partnerships

Hospital boards should be aware of the growing opportunity and ability for physicians to succeed independently. As Keckley notes, Doctors are more tech savvy than ever and “are decreasingly dependent on a hospital for capital, patients or revenues.” This may be one reason why many hospitals are finding it hard to recruit and retain good staff doctors.

Boards will have to understand the distinctions and benefits of switching from a medical staff model to a physician partnership model that gives them a better chance to grow and succeed in their positions.

Growin health plan options

Despite whatever amendments are made to the law, boards and providers will have to accept that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. That means boards will have to educate themselves on the growing number of insurer options, just like the patients choosing plans will.

Directors will have to decide if they maintain agreements with multiple payors, have an exclusive agreement with one or create their own health plans through insurer acquisitions.

Clinical innovation

Healthcare technology is developing at a rapid pace in terms of medical equipment, health information technology, electronic health records, etc. Keckley advises boards to watch the emerging technology market to find innovations that can best help their facilities meet the needs of their patients, while still keeping an eye on budgets, staffing capabilities and care coordination. That way they can prevent a purchase meant to be a major improvement from just becoming an expenditure collecting dust between infrequent uses.

Consumerism and retail health

Technology is also giving patients more control over their own health. Advancements like healthcare apps and online services allow patients to diagnose and treat minor conditions, access their medical records and lab results, and monitor their chronic conditions. As consumers, this is exactly what many patients want. Directors will have to understand that patients want transparency and options to make better informed decisions about their health.

Hospital boards that understand these principles can turn them to their advantage. Giving patients great autonomy over their health can be an effective way to raise patient satisfaction and earn referrals from satisfied patients.

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