Developing a Strategic Board

By Carolyn P. Caldwell, FACHE

In today’s health care environment, the trustee’s role in the strategic direction of the organization is critical to its success. To perform at their highest levels, hospitals and systems require governance leadership that works in tandem with the CEO and holds the chief executive and senior management accountable for achieving the organization’s shortand long-term goals.

Being strategic, however, will require more board time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it. A board that is actively involved in the hospital’s strategic direction makes the organization stronger.

Founded in 1948, Desert Regional Medical Center is a 387-bed tertiary hospital located in Palm Springs, Calif. In 1997, Tenet Healthcare entered into a 30-year lease with the Desert Healthcare District, which is governed by a five-member elected board. The terms of the lease allow the district to appoint two of its community members to the hospital’s 14-member board. Tenet leases and operates the facility. Desert Regional Medical Center is undergoing a business planning process during which the board reviews the entire strategic plan, including all service lines.

The board typically provides feedback and questions management to ensure nothing was overlooked during the planning process. Final questions from the board center on how management will execute plan strategies. This governance due diligence, along with periodic updates from management on strategy implementation throughout the year, assist the board in holding the CEO accountable for achieving the organization’s goals.

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