Samuel Kohan: Should Medical Practice Administrators be on the Board?

Board of directors of medical practices should consider extending membership to their top executive officer.
By: Samuel Kohan
Nov. 22, 2011 - PRLog -- By direction of the board, a medical practice’s top executive staff person (titled Administrator or CEO) manages all aspects of the organization. Administrators typically oversee the practice’s money, time and human resources and act as a liaison between the board and staff. Rather than keeping the Administrator in a strictly managerial position, some boards award them a role in governance as well, offering the Administrator full membership—and in some cases, voting rights—on the board.
Administrators who sit on the board hold a position of great privilege but also great responsibility. With an equal voice at the board table, Administrators can enjoy more stature and influence among board members. Yet, at times, they may feel conflicted between the two roles—caught in a constant balancing act between day-to-day operations and big-picture decision making. In a similar debate, some boards believe the Administrator should be on the board to help inform their decisions; others think it gives the Administrator too much power.

This board briefing will help your board consider three main questions: what are the advantages and limitations of Administrators on boards? If the Administrator is on the board, should he or she have full voting rights? How do your colleagues approach this decision?

Administrator has higher credibility and authority
Board membership adds authority to an Administrator’s position, giving that Administrator more credibility in the organization. For example, physician partners will perceive an Administrator/board member as a peer rather than simply “paid staff.” This perception can improve relations between the partners and the administrator, which, in turn, helps the practice raise its organizational stature. An Administrator on the board changes that dynamic.

What is the Role of the Administrator?
While job descriptions will vary among different medical practices, typically the Administrator or top staff is responsible for the following:

• Understanding the goals of the board
• Determining the costs of practice
• Planning and coordinating meetings of the board
• Initiating the board’s strategic planning process
• Securing board approval for the overall administrative costs
• Serving as staff liaison to the board and its committees
• Overseeing the practice’s operations in accordance with the board’s directives

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Neva, Inc. is a medical group management and business consulting firm. Either we manage the practice for physicians or help top management make the big decisions: on strategy, governance, operations, mergers & acquisitions, technology and organization.
Source:Samuel Kohan
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