Board engagement in quality: findings of a survey of hospital and system leaders

H Joanna Jiang, Carlin Lockee, Karma Bass, Irene Fraser
Journal of Healthcare Management / American College of Healthcare Executives 2008, 53 (2): 121-34; discussion 135
Hospital governing boards assume an important role in improving delivery of quality care in the hospital. More knowledge about the prevalence and impact of particular board activities can help them perform this role more effectively. This study draws from a survey of hospital and system leaders (presidents/chief executive officers [CEOs]) that was conducted in the first six months of 2006 with a total of 562 respondents. The survey contained 27 questions on various aspects of board engagement in quality. More than 80 percent of the responding CEOs indicated that their governing boards establish strategic goals for quality improvement, use quality dashboards to track performance, and follow up on corrective actions related to adverse events. The adoption of other practices was reported less frequently. Only 61 percent of the respondents indicated that their governing boards have a quality committee. The existence of a board quality committee was associated with higher likelihoods of adopting various oversight practices and lower mortality rates for six common medical conditions measured by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Inpatient Quality Indicators and the State Inpatient Databases. Hospital governing boards appear to be actively engaged in quality oversight, particularly through use of internal data and national benchmarks to monitor the quality performance of their organizations. Having a board quality committee can significantly enhance the board's oversight function. Other potentially useful activities-such as board involvement in setting the agenda for the discussion on quality, inclusion of the quality measures in the CEO's performance evaluation, and improvement of quality literacy of board members-are currently performed infrequently.

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