Healthcare Uncovered Episode 10: Who’s Really in Charge of America’s Hospitals?

Dr. Eric Bricker
Dr. Eric Bricker
June 21, 2023

Doctors – do you know what percentage of hospital boards are comprised of doctors?  

What about Hospital CEOs? The answers might surprise you.

In this week’s episode, I’m breaking down who’s really in charge and why more doctors need to get involved.  

Did you know only 20% of hospital board seats are filled by practicing or retired doctors? And that an additional 5% are filled by nurses?  

In other words, 75% of hospital board seats are filled by non-clinicians who have never treated a patient, ever!

Just over the past year, of the 24 new CEO appointees at the nation’s largest hospital systems, only 13% are MDs.

This means that most hospitals and health systems in the U.S. are run by non-clinicians who have ZERO hands-on experience treating patients.

Who’s in charge REALLY MATTERS. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. The hospital board and the CEO that set the hospital budget.  
  2. The board and the CEO have final say on what the hospital does or does not spend money on.  

So, the question is: Can a hospital run by non-clinicians do what’s best for patients? Does a hospital board of non-doctors who have not taken the Hippocratic Oath really put the patient first?

A Notable Exception  

Now, I should point out that there are a few notable exceptions.

Perhaps the most famous example comes from the world-renown Mayo Clinic based in Rochester, Minnesota. At the Mayo Clinic, 12 of their 15 board seats are held by doctors, that’s 80% compared to the national average of 20%!

Many Mayo physicians say that its governance structure has been one of the keys to Mayo’s success over the years.  

The Current State of Hospital Boards

So, what do doctors think about the current state-of-affairs of hospital boards?  

Surveys of physicians routinely find that 90% of doctors think doctors themselves should make up the majority of hospital boards. In other words, the vast majority of doctors DO NOT agree with how hospitals are run today.

Now of course, hospital boards themselves see things differently. Current hospital board members think physicians lack the business and management skills to effectively sit on a board of directors or run a complex organization.  

But, according to Bloomberg, 53% of hospitals were set to lose money in 2022 while almost all are coping with record job vacancies and sicker patients.

Seems like it isn’t going that well with these non-Doctor management teams... Oh,  

and by the way, Mayo – the doctor-run hospital system – it recorded a profit of nearly $600 million in 2022 on $16.3 billion in revenue... Go figure!  

Doctors – we need more of us in the leadership positions and board rooms of Americas hospitals. There is a better way. Let’s make it happen.  

Healthcare shouldn’t be complicated. Check out Nomi Health’s Open Network of physicians to break through the red tape, collect the money you’ve earned, and get back to why you’re doing this in the first place.... helping patients.  

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