The Inspector General's Office at HHS and the American Health Lawyers Association have issued a guide for board members of healthcare organizations on how to oversee healthcare quality programs within their organizations.
The 31-page guide, Corporate Responsibility and Health Care Quality: A Resource for Health Care Boards of Directors, was presented today at the AHLA annual meeting in Chicago.
According to its authors, the guide was "designed to help healthcare organization directors ask knowledgeable and appropriate questions related to healthcare quality requirements, measurement tools and reporting requirements" to meet the fiduciary duty of care that board members owe to the organization and to the charitable mission, if it is a not-for-profit corporation.
Board oversight of operations should extend to "approvals of new services and significant technology acquisitions," the report said, with the rationale that "Inquiry regarding the scientific bases supporting the efficacy and safety of new services and the identification of supportive processes to ensure quality and safety of new technology and services may serve to protect financial resources as well as patient safety."
According to the report, "In exercising his/her duty of care (and, as appropriate, duty of obedience to corporate purpose and mission), the governing board member may be expected to exercise general supervision and oversight of quality-of-care and patient safety issues. This is likely to include (a) being sensitive to the emergence of quality of care issues, challenges and opportunities, (b) being attentive to the development of specific quality-of-care measurement and reporting requirements (including asking the executive staff for education), and (c) requesting periodic updates from the executive staff on organizational quality of care initiatives and how the organization intends to address legal issues associated with those initiatives. Board members are expected to make reasonable further inquiry when concerns are aroused or should be aroused. These expectations increasingly are becoming more significant with the increased attention to quality-of-care issues from policymakers, providers and practitioners, payers and regulators. Board members must be, and must be perceived as, responsive to this changing environment."