Q&A: Physicians on Hospital Boards Featured in Fall 2012 Issue of Great Boards

The fall 2012 issue of Great Boards is now available at www.greatboards.org and features a Q&A with John R. Combes, MD, President and Chief Operating Officer of the AHA’s Center for Healthcare Governance, and Barry S. Bader, governance consultant and contributing editor to the newsletter, sharing their views on the implications of health care transformation for physicians on boards.

Combes and Bader discuss the traditional roles physicians have played on boards and why board service for physicians has become more of a challenge. They discuss how value-based health care will enhance the role of physician trustees as they apply their clinical expertise to determine what adds value to health care and what does not. They also discuss competencies boards should look for in physicians serving on boards and where hospitals and physicians are most likely to find common ground in governance. Other topics include:

  • Whether physicians on the active medical staff have conflicts of interest as trustees.
  • If employed physicians should serve on boards.
  • Common mistakes hospitals and medical staffs make as they change the roles and make-up of physicians on hospital boards.
  • Emerging best practices related to physician board membership.
  • How boards can best engage physicians to maximize their contribution to board service.

The article also includes a “do” and “don’t” list on physician trustee relationships with independent and employed physicians. Actions physician board members should take include communicating with the medical staff about the rationale for board decisions and how those decisions will advance the mission and encouraging the medical staff to choose leaders based on objective competencies and a collaborative work ethic, whether they are employed or independent. Combes and Bader caution physician board members to avoid undermining the board’s decision-making process or being apologists for the board with other physicians.

The home page of the Great Boards Web site also provides links to related resources for physicians in board and leadership roles.