Real health reform requires strong governance

While Obama's re-election cements the continued path of healthcare reform, the American Hospital Association turned its attention to governance, calling on Congress and providers to improve patient and community health with cost savings.

"The election has been decided, and the time for politics is over. It is now time for governance," AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said in Hospitals & Health Networks. "We must address the serious issues facing our country and have conversations that address real reform to improve the nation's healthcare system for patients and communities."

In addition to bridging the aisle between the split House and Senate, real health reform requires provider responsibility for the sake of patient care.

According to Raymond Hino, Health Research & Education Trust board member and FierceHealthcare advisory board member, the single most important intervention that a hospital executive can implement to improve performance is to engage the hospital board in quality.

"This means it is a key to take time on board meeting agendas each month to thoroughly educate our boards on our quality goals. Board members want to know, 'how do we know that we are providing the best quality care?' It is up to senior management to educate them," Hino wrote in a Hospital Impact blog post this week.

Citing Jim Conway, adjunct lecturer on healthcare management at the Harvard School of Public Health, Hino encouraged boards to be involved in aggressive quality goals and measurable performance, even if that means having a zero-tolerance policy. He also noted that it's up to hospital leaders to notify board of serious events the same day and not wait until 30 days or whenever the next board meeting is.

"I, myself, have learned the hard way that we, as healthcare executives, have a duty to inform our boards the same day the event occurs," Hino said about running the risk of blind-siding the board.

In a separate release, AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance report said governance also is vitally important in influencing physician engagement.

"Although organization scientists have failed to achieve consensus of a formal definition of engagement … [it is] characterized by belonging, pride and loyalty which fosters a mutually committed relationship between physicians/employees and organizations," according to physician authors William Jessee, senior vice president and senior advisor, and David Rowlee, senior vice president of the engagement opinion survey service line, both at Integrated Healthcare Strategies.

Jessee and Rowlee noted governance implies relationships with physicians, as well as the performance of senior leadership.

"Our definition of engagement is robust and multi-faceted in that it taps elements of positive excitement, deepening attachment and steadfast contribution."

For more information:
- read the H&HN column
- here's the Hospital Impact blog post
- see the AHA's Center for Healthcare Governance report (purchase required)

Related Articles:
Is it time to downsize the governance board?
What's missing from physician core competencies
Succession planning lacking in healthcare
Board's role expands to conflict mediator
CMS puts hospital board rule on hold