Not-for-profit community health system boards and their chief executives should put some concerted attention and resources toward meeting their systems community benefit responsibilities, according to a new governance study supported by a grant from accounting firm Grant Thornton with principal project funding by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Based on a survey of health system CEOs, a substantial proportion of community health systems are not meeting the basic benchmarks of good governance for not-for-profit healthcare organizations that want to maintain tax-exempt status. The gap is greater for independent systems than for those affiliated with larger parent organizations, according to the study. The recommendation was one of six. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa, focused on board structure and composition, board practices and processes, and board culture.
The researchers said they found gaps between present reality and current benchmarks in a majority of the dimensions of governance addressed in this report, adding that it was to be expected as benchmarks are targets. Governance in community health systems appeared substantially consistent with current benchmarks in 11 areas, while systems that are part of larger parent organizations generally were found to be more consistent with benchmarks than independent organizations with the exception of the issue of standing board committees. The full report is available here.
The survey was developed with the help of the American Hospital Associations Center for Healthcare Governance. The final study population included 201 community health systems. Survey forms were returned by the CEOs from 123 of those systems, a 61% response rate. -- by Cinda Becker
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