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The Governance Institute Releases 2021 National Survey of Healthcare Governance

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Dec 10, 2021
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Boards have made small advances in diversity; less time is spent on strategic planning

LINCOLN, Neb., Dec. 10, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- U.S. healthcare boards are showing small gains in diversity, but the pandemic has hindered boards’ ability to focus on future direction, according to a new report from The Governance Institute, a service of NRC Health.

The Governance Institute’s 2021 survey of U.S. hospitals and health systems, Advancing Governance for a New Future of Healthcare, continues a longitudinal assessment of how board structure, culture, and practices reflect the industry’s movement toward value-based care. The report includes analysis of how systems structure their allocation of responsibilities with their subsidiary boards, how board structure and culture correlate with board practices and overall performance, and how the coronavirus pandemic has influenced governance trends. The Governance Institute conducts a survey of this scope every two years, and this year’s report compares findings from over a decade of data.

“The report focuses on the state-of-the-art in governance, and by comparing these results with their own board’s performance, a leader can determine the extent to which these practices have been integrated,” said Kathryn Peisert, The Governance Institute’s managing editor. “The objective is to have your board achieve its highest level of performance—because we know of no hospital or health system that can achieve high performance without great governance.”

The survey results help boards and executives focus on areas for improvement in governance.

Key findings include:

  • There was overwhelming agreement that boards and their CEOs were well prepared to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and did a good job leading organizations through the crisis.
  • Despite the fact that prior research has shown that higher-performing boards spend a majority of their time in active deliberation, discussion, and debate about the strategic priorities of their organizations, this year’s report shows a decline in the amount of time boards spent in this manner between 2019 and 2021.
  • The following specific items were found to have significance regarding board performance in this year’s report:
    • Boards with term limits are more likely to cite excellent performance.
    • Boards whose quality committees meet more frequently show higher adoption of quality-oversight best practices, which in turn directly impacts these boards’ effectiveness in overseeing and improving quality.
    • Among health systems, those that have wide understanding and clarity on the assignment of governance responsibility across boards in the system are more likely to cite excellent performance.

Overall, this year’s report shows that boards are slowly improving their structures, cultures, and performance in most areas, but this movement is too slow to allow boards to make much impact on their organizations during a time of rapid change.

For more information, visit a special interactive page highlighting key trends and results here.

About The Governance Institute
Advancing Governance for a New Future of Healthcare is the latest release of The Governance Institute’s surveys of hospitals and health systems. The Governance Institute provides essential governance knowledge and solutions to the CEOs and boards of more than 1,000 member non-profit hospitals and healthcare systems in the U.S. The Governance Institute conducts research studies, tracks healthcare industry trends, and showcases the best practices of America’s leading healthcare boards. For more information, write to [email protected] or visit

About NRC Health
For 40 years, NRC Health (NASDAQ: NRC) has been committed to achieving Human Understanding and bringing healthcare organizations closer to their customers than ever before by illuminating and improving the key moments that define an experience and build trust. Guided by its uniquely empathic heritage, proprietary methods, skilled associates, and holistic approach, NRC Health helps its customers design experiences that exceed expectations, inspire loyalty, and improve well-being among patients, residents, physicians, nurses, and staff. For more information, write to [email protected], or visit

Press Contact:
Jennifer Lyle
Barokas, a FINN Partners Company
[email protected]


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