The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that publishes The Milbank Quarterly, commissions projects, and convenes state health policy decision makers on issues they identify as important to population health.
We focus on a number of topic areas identified by state health policy leaders as important to population health.
The Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University is a national leader in evidence-based decision making and policy design.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. Get the latest from thought leaders, including Christopher F. Koller, president of the Fund.
We publish The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to population health.
December 2013 (Volume 91)
December 2013 | Ross Millar, Russell Mannion, Tim Freeman, Huw T. O. Davies
Context: Recurring problems with patient safety have led to a growing interest in helping hospitals’ governing bodies provide more effective oversight of the quality and safety of their services. National directives and initiatives emphasize the importance of action by boards, but the empirical basis for informing effective hospital board oversight has yet to receive full and careful review.
Methods: This article presents a narrative review of empirical research to inform the debate about hospital boards’ oversight of quality and patient safety. A systematic and comprehensive search identified 122 papers for detailed review. Much of the empirical work appeared in the last ten years, is from the United States, and employs cross-sectional survey methods.
Findings: Recent empirical studies linking board composition and processes with patient outcomes have found clear differences between high- and low-performing hospitals, highlighting the importance of strong and committed leadership that prioritizes quality and safety and sets clear and measurable goals for improvement. Effective oversight is also associated with well-informed and skilled board members. External factors (such as regulatory regimes and the publication of performance data) might also have a role in influencing boards, but detailed empirical work on these is scant.
Conclusions: Health policy debates recognize the important role of hospital boards in overseeing patient quality and safety, and a growing body of empirical research has sought to elucidate that role. This review finds a number of areas of guidance that have some empirical support, but it also exposes the relatively inchoate nature of the field. Greater theoretical and methodological development is required if we are to secure more evidence-informed governance systems and practices that can contribute to safer care.
Author(s): Ross Millar, Russell Mannion, Tim Freeman, and Huw T.O. Davies
Keywords: governing boards, trustees, patient safety, quality improvement
Read on Wiley Online Library
Volume 91, Issue 4 (pages 738–770)
Published in 2013
Medical Home Implementation: A Sensemaking Taxonomy of Hard and Soft Best Practices
Commentary: “The Lake Wobegon Effect, a Natural Human Tendency to Overestimate One’s Capabilities” (Wikipedia)