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Governance Basics: Conducting Effective Meetings

Hospital leaders must navigate through a complex health care environment that continues to come under increasing examination and debate.  The lingering effects of the economic recession, calls for increased transparency, scrutiny of health care costs and quality, changing reimbursement systems and the uncertainty of health care transformation mean that boards today, more than ever, must focus their time and attention on the most critical issues confronting their organizations. Board meetings should begin with prepared participants, follow a meticulously-planned agenda, and include respectful, friendly exchanges of ideas and calm deliberations. Meetings should be conducted by a procedure-savvy chair, maintain clear direction and decisive votes, and end on time.  If this does not quite describe your board’s meetings, read on.

The truth is, the time a governing board spends together in its meetings can make or break its effectiveness. Great board meetings set the tone for hospital success. Everyone arrives having done their homework, they know the issues they’ll be discussing and voting upon, they’re committed to treating one another in a civil manner, and they deliberate calmly. If the discussion should ever get boisterous, their chair skillfully brings them back to order, refocuses the discussion, and calls for a vote. When the gavel signaling adjournment falls, board members clap one other on the back and congratulate themselves on another productive meeting.

It may sound like a dream, but it’s a fact that your governing board meetings can move just as smoothly and productively.

GovernWellTM suggests incorporating six best practices for building better meetings:

  • The meeting starts before the meeting
  • A great agenda sets the stage
  • Treat others as you want to be treated
  • Elect an organized and focused leader
  • Know and practice deliberative and decision-making processes
  • The first five minutes after the meeting count too
SDAHO’s Trustee Resource Center website is a robust library of resources from GovernWell.  GovernWell offers a single source of valuable governance programs, board briefs, templates and tools that will help enable administrators and trustees to practice better governance and ensure better health care for their community.  To access member-only content, visit www.trustees.sdaho.org. If you are a SDAHO member and do not have the password, email info@sdaho.org.

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