When Systems Change: Breaking Free from Traditional Governance Models - the New Optimal?

by Luanne R. Stout

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.”― Georg C. Lichtenberg

Health systems and hospitals are becoming increasingly complex, expanding beyond the traditional hospital/parent company model to include new structures and strategic partnerships to support a wide range of care for patients in their communities. Yet, many health care organizations continue to utilize the same approach to governance that they have been using for decades—for hospitals and non-hospitals alike.

The traditional community-based hospital board has been part of our culture in health care governance for so long that it has become a fixture, a constant, and something we don’t often think about changing in our quest for transformational governance. The mere suggestion that a governing board in a health care organization, particularly those that are non-profit or public, might not be a community board is bound to raise a gasp or at least an eyebrow. Hospitals and health systems must maintain ties to the communities they serve. But is a community board for every business venture in a health care system the best model in today’s environment?

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