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Is it time for healthcare governance to get social?

September 8, 2014

This week on September 10, Jodi Butts will moderate #hcsmca, bringing a topic that we surprisingly have not examined from this angle. Remember, #hcsmca wants to hear from all voices. Does the question of governance intimidate you? No problem. Come and ask questions. No prior knowledge required. Got lots of thoughts on governance? Come share and help others learn. 

By Jodi Butts (@jodilhbutts)

headshot Jodi Butts

Jodi Butts

The name of Accreditation Canada’s report belies its conclusion: Quality Starts at the Top: The Pivotal Role of the Governing Body. Highlights of this study include two very important points:

  • The greatest opportunity for improvement related to governance is the need for governing bodies to regularly evaluate their own performance.
  • Organizations excelling in governance practices perform significantly better in aspects of patient safety, further emphasizing that boards play a pivotal role in enabling quality and safety.

Based on its review, Accreditation Canada found that while generally performing well, Boards are not regularly using a process to evaluate and benchmark their own performance and functioning. And yet, there is a large body of literature that reinforces the importance of governance and its influence on the quality of health care services.

Similarly, there is an abundance of evidence that supports the positive impact that transparency can have on quality. The authors of a 2011 McKinsey study entitled Transparency – the most powerful driver of health care improvement? note that transparency has already transformed a wide range of industries. They posit that, similarly in the healthcare context, transparency has the potential to enhance accountability, productivity and quality of service delivery; increase patients’ involvement in their own care and drive economic growth.

And if we are to pursue greater transparency, there has to be a better, or least an additional way, to access information about our healthcare system. From the individual’s perspective, freedom of information laws are expensive, limited and logistically clumsy at facilitating greater understanding of our system. From the providers’ perspective, they are expensive to comply with and offer an ineffective and distorted means of sharing knowledge. We continue to see more mandatory disclosure and reporting laws as a means of compensating for the shortcomings of “freedom of information” and “access to information” legislation but this probably isn’t the complete solution either.

It therefore seems to me that both governance and transparency are worth more effort than we are currently investing; that there is a need for “opening up” the governance process to more feedback and understanding; and some creativity never and probably wouldn’t hurt.

I’m therefore pleased to invite you to join me in Twitter conversation on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 1PM ET about the role social media can play in pursuing the improvement of the quality of healthcare governance and transparency in our system:

  • T1: How could social media be better than access to information laws at achieving transparency?
  • T2: How can social media be used in strategic or hospital design planning processes?
  • T3: Could live tweeting from Board of Directors or Medical Advisory Council meetings make for better governance?
One Comment leave one →
  1. carmen2u permalink
    September 9, 2014 10:12 pm

    For some institutions which might not embrace social media completely, they can take “baby steps” with an intranet form of crowdsourcing. If there’s an internal listserv or enterprise software that supports cross-department conversation, that can help any organization begin along the path to transparency. This tweetchat sounds very interesting, so I’ll have to scour the transcript afterward. Good stuff.


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