Hospitals seem to have a season for everything. There are preparations and protocols and promotions for the onset of tourist- and flu-seasons. There are awareness days, weeks, and months for every imaginable body part, cancer, and disorder. There are business seasons for year-end, budget planning, and performance improvement benchmarks and goal-setting. There are appreciation days for every vocational category of professionals. But when exactly is the season for bylaws?
That was before…
Every organized medical staff has bylaws. The purpose is to provide effective guidance for medical staff leaders and those who work with them. But how can they offer guidance if they were conceived of:
- before the advent of telemedicine,
- before the roles of advanced practice professionals changed,
- before the mix of providers shifted to greater numbers of employed physicians, or
- before greater numbers of hospital-affiliated surgery centers and outpatient clinics emerged?
How can bylaws give appropriate and adequate guidance if they don’t cover what they need to, or if they dictate standards that are either too high to comply with in daily practice or too low to be compliant with federal and state regulations?
A Cure for Physician Engagement?
Physician engagement is a chronic challenge in hospitals all over the country — large and small, public and private and government-run, independent and system-affiliated. Hospitals need physicians to lead and actively engage in decision-making and participate in compliance and quality measures in order to succeed. In our work with these hospitals, we find that some of the greatest barriers to engagement can be solved with a bylaws revision.
Bylaws that are too “tight” are frustrating to physician leaders who deserve a reasonable amount of autonomy in dictating the make-up and conduct of their medical staff. And bylaws that are too loose put them in a position where every decision is subjective, leaving them on a political hot seat (and leaving the hospital open to legal action.) That’s a no-win situation. However, if you put physicians – many of whom are Type-A personalities who really want to be excellent at everything they do – in a position to succeed as physician leaders, they tend to do it more willingly.
Five Trigger Questions for Bylaws Review/Redesign
- Does your hospital have a new or recent system affiliation?
- Have the requirements of CMS or your accreditors changed?
- Are there areas that are more complex than they need to be?
- Are there areas that are not addressed, but need to be?
- Are there areas that leave too much or not enough wiggle room?
If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions, then “bylaws season” is… now. Make this an agenda item at your next leadership meeting.
If you would like to explore options for how Greeley can support your review or revision of bylaws, call 888-749-3054 or submit this simple form.
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