Such is supervisory boards in healthcare

Jul 6, 2016 | Health&Care Management

A new nationwide study has investigated the role of supervisory boards in healthcare facilities.

The consulting firm DHR International Neumann presented the first nationwide study on the role of supervisory boards in healthcare. According it's findings, the supervisory board has a high impact especially on budget and personnel decisions - but the payment for this is below average. - From hcm

Highly satisfied, hardly known, low paid: That's according to a recent study by the consulting firm DHR International Neumann on supervisory boards in healthcare. The company has carried out the first study in Germany on the situation of supervisory boards in healthcare. The conclusion: supervisory boards bear much responsiblity in tasks such as budget and personnel planning, but recieve below average pay in comparison to similar positions in other sectors and within the workforce of their company they are hardly known.

Hospital-specific expertise is partially weak

The results of the study on supervisory boards of municipal, non-profit and university clinics has revealed the following:

  • Supervisory boards keep their role clearly defined, influencing daily business but taking on the role of the decision maker only in exceptional cases. They are generally satisfied with their work.

  • Focus areas are reporting, crisis management, personnel decisions and strategic issues. The greater the influence of the Supervisory Board on the strategic planning of an operation, the better outcome on the bottom line.

  • Their cooperation with management is based on trust. Hospitals with sucessful cooperation between management and the supervisory board achieve better business results.

  • The visibility of the Supervisory Board in the workforce is low. 

  • Hospital-specific expertise within supervisory boards not always present and is often identified as weak.

  • The pay is much lower than in other industries. In many cases, no payment takes place. 

"The results of the study clearly show, that a thorough discussion on the role of the board in the health services sector is necessary. At the moment there is tension between ensuring extensive healthcare service provision and providing effective economic measures," said Patrick A. Haberland, who is responsible for the study at DHR International Neumann. "We see room for improvement especially in the areas of strategy, transparency and training. This includes closer communication between supervisory boards and employees of the health care organization to address initial negative developments, such as an early warning system. Training in healthcare and medicine for unskilled supervisory board members also constitutes an important field of action to provide greater expertise."

Background to the study

For the study "The role of the Supervisory Boards in Healthcare" DHR International Neumann contacted 244 supervisory boards and conducted semi-structured interviews with experts. The focus was mainly supervisory boards of academic, non-profit and community clinics. The interviews were evaluated scientifically with the software support of MAXQDA. The publication of the results took place anonymously. The focus of the study was in four areas:

  • Relation of management / control intensity,

  • Instrumentation processes,

  • Relation to the management

  • Acceptance and perception of the organization.


The above is a German to English translation from the original Health&Care Management magazine. For the original article in German please click here. 

For Patrick A. Haberlands full study findings click here.