Committees effectively conserve board time, effectively use talent, and allow more board involvement in significant decisions. When selecting committee members in hospitals, especially for crucial roles like the quality and patient safety committee, a careful approach is essential to ensure effective governance and operation of the organization. The board chair typically delegates committee assignments; sometimes, the governance/nominating committee is assigned to conduct this work.
Effectively fulfilling committee seats is a crucial function of performing the duty of care and obedience as they provide enhanced oversight and understanding of the organization. Boards should also have an established process for committee selection. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:
Step 1: Identify the Needs
Start by identifying the committees required per the organization’s bylaws, known as standing committees, and additional committees needed to operate in today’s health care environment effectively, sometimes referred to as ad hoc committees. According to the American Hospital Association’s 2022 Governance Study, most organizations have a finance, executive, quality improvement/patient safety, governance/nominating, and audit and compliance committee. Emerging committees include executive compensation, strategic planning, community benefit/mission, and fundraising. Whether the committee is specified in the bylaws or is a new governing arm, each should have a clearly defined purpose, scope of authority, and responsibilities.
Step 2: Establish Criteria
Using the committee’s purpose, scope, and key responsibilities, leaders should develop a comprehensive set of criteria that committee members should meet. Board members’ interests and expertise in relevant fields should be considered when making committee assignments, commitment to the hospital’s mission, and the ability to contribute effectively to the committee’s goals. These criteria will serve as a benchmark for evaluating potential candidates. While committees are typically a subset of the board, it is common to invite ‘outside’ participation, whether it is medical staff, patients and families, or community members who are in consideration for a future board position.
Step 3: Nominate, Review and Appoint
Reach out to stakeholders within the hospital, such as board members, medical staff, administrators, and community members, to nominate individuals who meet the established criteria. Some organizations may have a nomination or application process for committee participation. The organization should have a review process to evaluate the qualifications and experience of nominated individuals. Conduct interviews with candidates to assess their commitment, motivation, and alignment with the hospital’s goals. Committee appointments should be recommended by the board chair or committee, with ultimate approval provided by the hospital board.
Step 4: Operate and Evaluate
Committee members should receive an orientation to the committee, including its scope and critical responsibilities. Committees should develop an annual work plan to guide their activity. Committee effectiveness and necessity should be evaluated regularly by the governance committee. The evaluation should determine if committees are effectively utilized, information is shared efficiently and clearly, and appropriate work and oversight is conducted. Committee work should be distinct from the board level; if that is taking place, it is a signal the committee should be reviewed for necessity. A component of this review is to assess the organization’s bylaws to ensure they provide guidance and flexibility to establish, modify, or dissolve committees as appropriate.
Committee selection should be transparent, fair and merit-based. It’s crucial to comply with legal and ethical considerations, maintain transparency, engage stakeholders, and periodically evaluate the performance and effectiveness of committee members. By following these steps and adapting them to your hospital’s specific needs and governance structure, you can ensure that your committees are composed of dedicated and qualified individuals who contribute to the hospital’s success.