Hospital Boards: Working with the Right Board Portal Provider

Nicholas J Price

Board directors of public and private hospitals have different infrastructures, but they're wrestling with many of the same issues in the boardroom. Healthcare reform has rocked the nation and changed the way that hospitals approach healthcare. The rising cost of healthcare continues to be a prime area of concern for hospital boards.

Board trustees rely on board portals to help them manage such issues as governmental compliance, technology, security and record-keeping. As hospitals change their approach from fee-for-service care to value-based care, much of the board's work centers around patient safety and quality, access to care, patient satisfaction, staff shortages, and the relations between physicians and hospitals.

Like many other industries, boards of directors also need to navigate mergers, acquisitions and reorganization issues.

These issues have many facets, and hospital boards must fulfill their duties in ways that maintain the hospital's good reputation.

With so many issues to tackle, hospital boards rely heavily on their board portal service providers to get the most out of their board portal software. Hospital boards should be looking for a provider that can provide more than just a board portal. Board administrators should be looking for integrated solutions that build off of a board portal, such as Diligent's Governance Cloud, which enables organizations to achieve best-in-class governance.

The Right Board Portal Service Provider Customizes the Board Portal for Efficiency

Hospital boards expect to get many of the common uses of board portals like the convenience and cost-savings of creating board books electronically. They've become more familiar with how to access the portal to receive their board handbooks and to share documents.

Board portal service providers can customize the features on the portal so that board directors will get the maximum efficiency out of the portal. Hospital trustees are continually facing new issues. The right board portal service provider can show them how to communicate and collaborate just as quickly as urgent healthcare issues arise. Secure messaging and sharing documents with the ability for board trustees to be able to make annotations and comments in real time can be a timely asset.

The nature of hospital boards necessitates many board committees. It's vital for hospital boards to have board trustees serving on committees who have the necessary skills and expertise to help drive and prioritize the board's work. The board chair and the governance committee need to oversee the work of committees for financial management and planning, quality and patient safety, audit and compliance, executive evaluation and compensation, community benefit, human resources, philanthropy and more. These committees need the dedicated space to collaborate and to achieve their goals.

Board Portal Service Providers Work With Trustees on Cost-Effectiveness

The right board portal service provider will have had experience providing service to other hospitals. While a service provider may serve many different types of industries, the right service provider will have knowledge and expertise about the types of issues with which hospital trustees need to contend. Cost reduction in healthcare means redirecting the savings to areas of healthcare that directly serve patients. Expert board portal service providers will be able to point out the efficiencies of the portal that trustees may not have realized.

The right board portal, along with board trustees who understand how to use it, can cut down on the time for tasks from hours to minutes, which translates to increased productivity. In addition, a board portal is a green solution because it saves thousands of dollars on paper, ink, energy and other valuable resources.

Board portal service providers can also help trustees to set up online self-evaluations, which save the board even more valuable time. In addition, the board portal service provider will set up the portal so that trustees can easily find financial reports, governing documents, committee reports and more.

Training and 24/7 Customer Service Come From the Right Board Portal Service Provider

Research shows a direct correlation between age and hesitancy with using technology. Hospital trustees tend to be in the 50- to 60-year-old age range. However, this study showed that older adults are willing and able to learn more about technology, and that their hesitation lies in lack of clarity in how to use it and lack of support after they've learned it.

A board portal service provider with the right services recognizes that not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace. Some individuals will need more training and support than others. Quality board portal service providers offer a variety of learning modalities, including webinars, tutorials, onsite trainings and individual trainings. They also provide around-the-clock phone support answered by technicians who can explain every aspect of the portal.

Hospital boards should be sure to choose a board portal provider that is available when trustees are likely to need help the most, which is often in the evenings and on weekends.

Security Is a Top Priority in a Board Portal Service Provider

With HIPAA, GDPR and potentially other future laws that require strict adherence to data protection, security must be a top priority for hospital boards. The Health Care Industry Cybersecurity Task Force recently revealed their top recommendations for cybersecurity, which include the following:

  • Defining and streamlining cybersecurity leadership
  • Defining and streamlining governance
  • Defining expectations for cybersecurity in healthcare
  • Increasing resilience and security of IT in healthcare and medical devices
  • Developing the IT healthcare workforce so that cybersecurity awareness and technical capabilities remain a priority
  • Improving cybersecurity education and awareness throughout the healthcare industry
  • Identifying ways to enhance research and development and protect intellectual property from cyberattacks

Cyberattacks cost U.S. companies an average of $1.3 million in 2017. A top board portal service provider will be able to explain how the board can use the portal to follow through with the task force's recommendations. The sensitive nature of data that hospitals need to protect requires a board portal service provider that offers the best in cybersecurity protection and that continually works to update, maintain and improve security enhancements.

These matters lead to the question of value. A quality board portal service provider may cost a bit more. Considering the sensitive nature of information and the high cost in the event of a cyberattack, the hospital's board portal isn't a place to sacrifice quality over cost.

A Summary of Important Board Portal Services for Hospitals

An industry with rapidly changing parts, such as today's hospitals are experiencing, requires a board portal service provider that is flexible and innovative enough to meet these needs as they develop. The right services in a board portal provider offer a portal that works effectively and efficiently, while providing the highest level of cybersecurity protection available.

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Nicholas J. Price
Nicholas J. Price is a former Manager at Diligent. He has worked extensively in the governance space, particularly on the key governance technologies that can support leadership with the visibility, data and operating capabilities for more effective decision-making.