Top 5 concerns for healthcare boards

Healthcare boards during the COVID-19 pandemic have been tasked with providing support and guidance to organizations that are facing financial and workforce challenges. In 2021, the board's role will continue to expand in ensuring organizational success through attraction and retention of the workforce, and boards will be involved in the reassessment of business and talent management strategies at hospitals and health systems, according to compensation consulting firm Pearl Meyer.

The firm said in a new article that these five areas will be a focus for healthcare boards in 2021:

1. Engagement, retention and mental health of healthcare workers;
Healthcare boards should be prepared to invest significant amounts of time and money in workforce mental health issues. Boards should be clearly stating their expectations to senior leadership and monitoring organizational health measures like turnover, open positions, understaffing, unionization efforts and more. Among these measures, employees should receive special attention and recognition for their hard work.

2. Business strategy, alignment of compensation, and financial recovery and transformation;
Most healthcare organizations have a compensation incentive approach that aligns with annual and long-term business goals. It is important to revisit incentive plans periodically to make sure they still align with the business strategy of the organization. Incentive plans should reflect the special circumstances from the pandemic and also drive business priorities.

3. Goal-setting for payers;
Most health insurers saw a relatively strong financial performance in 2020.  Since the pandemic creates uncertainty in making forecasts, insurers may set wider performance ranges in incentive plans since they cannot be as precise as they'd like to be. In addition, some insurers are using non-financial metrics like quality of care and customer satisfaction in their incentive plans as well.

4. The need to more actively manage risk
Healthcare organizations historically do not take on enterprise or reputational risks and CEOs are known to be given a fairly short leash. Healthcare boards should foster an atmosphere of trust with an executive team, so CEOs feel comfortable communicating strategy, challenges and anticipated risks. Health system executives should adopt leveraged compensation arrangements to encourage a strategic approach.

5. A focus on the post-pandemic renewal of the strategic board
The pandemic has highlighted each board's strengths and weaknesses. In annual assessments, the board said they have seen the difference between strategic engagement and rubber stamps. Improved discussion can allow for more crisis engagement.

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More articles on leadership and management:
Corner Office: Saint Alphonsus Health System CEO Odette Bolano on the importance of taking calculated risks 
Chicago safety-net hospital linked to 3rd improper COVID-19 vaccination event
Kevin Duvall named HHS acting chief data officer


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