Abstract

[This article was originally published in Healthcare Policy / Politiques de Santé, Volume 3, Number 3.]

Background: Effective hospital governance depends on proactive board leadership to minimize risk.

Study Aim: To survey hospital board chairs about governance practices, particularly with respect to approval processes for oversight of management preparedness for unforeseen emergencies.

Methods: A 2004 survey of hospital managers initially suggested greater board leadership in risk management as a desired strategic priority for Ontario's acute care hospitals. Our literature review and panel process defined 34 best practices in board governance, including two practices explicitly addressing the board's role in preparing for risk.

Results: Our findings revealed that some boards may not be actively engaged in ensuring that adequate processes are in place to protect against risk. More than one-quarter (n=28, 26.9%) of board chairs reported that they had not approved a management plan to address emergencies. Thirty respondents (28.8%) said they had not approved a process to identify, manage and minimize risks to the hospital's sustainability. Forty-seven respondents (45.2%) said they had not approved both of these two processes. A significant association emerged between boards that had approved both risk preparation strategies and boards that had implemented six key governance practices relating to accountability for leadership and stakeholder communication.

[To view the French abstract, please scroll down.]