Board Portals: Are They Improving Governance Effectiveness?

by Mary K. Totten

While most health care governing boards may still rely on paper packets and board agenda books for board and committee meetings, adoption of board portals— Web-based, online workspaces that support health care governance—appears to be catching up with use in other sectors. A 2006 study (Wall Street Journal, October 23, 2006) estimated that about one in five companies were then using board portals—that’s about the level of today’s usage for health care boards, estimates John McLeod, senior director of web services and delivery for Care Tech Solutions, based in Troy, Mich., which offers the BoardNet portal. “The number of portals available today for health care boards has escalated due to the need for better security, availability of real-time data, utility in attracting younger board members and a stricter regulatory environment focusing on compliance with HIPAA and other requirements,” he says.

Articles and publications abound on portal features and on using, selecting or building a board portal. But, what do today’s governance staff and board members say about their impact on governance? Are they helping boards govern better? With usage rates in the low double digits, the long-term impact of board portals on governance effectiveness remains to be seen, but early returns are promising.

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