The other day, one of the WMHS board members shared an article with me with the same title as above, except for the really part. The article was fascinating because it seemed like it was written for a time a few decades ago. In addition to the WMHS Board, I have interacted with board members from other Maryland hospitals through the Maryland Hospital Association's Executive Committee and board leadership from the other two hospitals in our proposed alliance. I also interact with CEOs from across the US on a frequent basis and I don't know of any "do nothing" boards.
In fact, last week at WMHS, we had our three-year Joint Commission accreditation survey. After the Leadership Session, which by the way was focused exclusively on the board's level of knowledge, commitment and involvement with Quality, Patient Safety, Communications, Health Care Reform and Population Health, the surveyors commented that having such an engaged board as I have at WMHS can be challenging for a CEO. I told them that I wouldn't have it any other way. Every hospital that I have been a part of over my 38 years in health care has had a very engaged board, just lucky I guess. There may be some hospitals that haven't had the luxury of such a board and how unfortunate for them.
The "do nothing" board may seem advantageous for a CEO, but it isn't. Actually, if they are not engaged, they are not aware of what is going on and that can be a job killer for a CEO. As soon as something out of the ordinary happens, the so called "do nothing" board becomes involved and could easily over react. Governance has changed dramatically in the last 10 years especially with the passing of the Sarbanes Oxley law. Although it isn't a requirement for health system boards, many like WMHS have modeled themselves against it and that is a good thing for health care.