Special Report: Modernizing Health System Governance

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and sweeping social change, healthcare boards rededicated themselves to matters of diversity, equity and inclusion. This includes striving to make their memberships more diverse and representative of the constituents they serve, and taking intentional, strategic steps to address issues of health equity among patients and local communities. Boards fully realize that now is an ideal time for meaningful change.

Many health system boards have found, however, that they are poorly equipped to institute change, and that their governance structures are no longer designed to fully support their strategic visions. These are some of the key findings in a new report issued by the Health Management Academy on behalf of WittKieffer. The Academy conducted a quantitative and qualitative survey of executives – from CEOs to board chairs to general counsel – representing 25 leading health systems.

Key takeaways from Governance & Executive Leadership Trends Across Leading Health Systems include:

  1. There is a significant disconnect between boards’ diversity goals and their implementation. For example, while 78% of leading health systems surveyed had a systemwide health equity strategy, only 3% percent reported having health equity expertise on their board.
  2. Current recruitment practices are inhibiting diversity goals. Many boards have outdated policies and procedures (e.g., extended terms, no age limits) and use legacy recruiting practices (e.g., relying on their own peer networks) that prevent them from diversifying their composition.
  3. Boards have set clear goals on diversity, recruiting, and health equity, but have yet to implement many changes that support operationalizing these goals. These include prioritizing among the many skillsets, expertise, and demographics that may be missing from the boardroom, and using a competency matrix during recruitment efforts.

The report provides recommendations and a host of strategies that boards can adopt in order to move the needle on their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and modernize their governance practices.

Read the full report.

View a summary video:

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