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The best relationships with hospital boards come from building trust and keeping them informed, say those who work closely with board members.
Demonstrate you are a partner in supporting their governance role by providing context to help them better understand the information and metrics, says Diane Rafferty, managing director with Healthcare Industry Group at the consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal in Los Angeles.
The benefits of a better relationship between quality professionals and the hospital board are immeasurable, says Kathleen Murphy, managing director with Healthcare Industry Group at Alvarez & Marsal in New York City.
Consider these tips for ensuring the best board impact on quality improvement:
• When you have a chance to influence the selection of board members, consider candidates with clinical backgrounds, Rafferty says.
• Determine the right amount of information required for the board to govern vs. manage, Murphy recommends.
• Be cautious of board members overreacting to information, and help them understand it in context, Rafferty says. Provide trended data compared to national benchmarks and any quality metrics that impact reimbursement. Do not just give them a snapshot. Help them understand the long view.
• Provide detailed accounts of adverse safety events, Murphy advises. Real-life examples will resonate with them and help them understand. Help them to make a correlation between these situations and the seriousness of their board oversight. Explain the root cause of these types of safety events and the specific action plan that has been implemented to prevent it.
• Encourage questions and feedback. The board should be asking questions about how the organization identifies, investigates, addresses/resolves, and prevents, Rafferty says.
• Tell the truth — the good, the bad, and the ugly, Murphy says. Do not sugar coat. Do not cover up.
• Remind board members that “We are all in this together.” The board is held accountable for governance when adverse events occur, Rafferty notes.
• Update your quality dashboard regularly. Make sure the data are real-time, trended, and meaningful, changing in response to adverse events and trends, Murphy says.
• Provide five- to 10-minute presentations on a quality concept at board meetings to further their education on concepts that might be unfamiliar, suggests David Munch, MD, senior principal at Vizient, a healthcare performance improvement company based in Irving, TX. This can be especially helpful for board members who come from a business background unrelated to medicine and for community members who serve on the board. One idea is to assign an article to be read before the meeting and then discuss it with board members, he says.
• Invite board members to round on the floors, Munch says. In addition to learning more about quality concerns, board members tend to be more emotionally engaged once they see how these issues directly affect actual patients and staff, he says.
• Make site visits to another hospital. Munch suggests taking the board to another facility to meet with its board and see how they incorporate quality issues into their work. Seeing how another organization does well with this goal can be powerful, he says.
• Manage the amount of data presented to the board. Avoid overloading the board with huge volumes of data each month, Munch suggests. Instead, break it down so that you rotate each month through data on a particular area and then move to a different area the next month, he says.
Financial Disclosure: Author Greg Freeman, Editor Jesse Saffron, Editor Jill Drachenberg, Nurse Planner Jill Winkler, Editorial Group Manager Terrey L. Hatcher, and Consulting Editor Patrice Spath report no consultant, stockholder, speaker’s bureau, research, or other financial relationships with companies having ties to this field of study.