Table 3

Perceived board tools in improving quality of care

ToolsTasksQuotes from interviews
Set prioritiesDevelop and drive strategy“Within the panoply of things you have to attend to, you're going to have a focus on a particular subset … [We] are driving a strategy; not just getting through the agenda.” (Chair, metropolitan)
Allocate resources“Our obstetrics area reported that perinatal deaths were on the high side. It was a high risk … so we've got more foetal monitors being purchased. We're not waiting for government to fund something.” (Chair, regional)
Look to the future“We are continually looking at where we can improve and where the future might be … The acuity level is increasing, so then it's about what equipment do we have … Making sure that we're ahead of the game.” (Deputy chair, regional)
Measure progressMonitor performance“I think outcomes, at the end of the day, are the yardstick by which you measure your governance progress. We have a good system [of quality indicators] in place to check and measure.” (Board member, rural)
Establish targets“We've got a strategy with clear targets for trying to push [adverse events] down. It's worked for some things. It hasn't worked for others. But at least we've got something to aim for.” (Chair, metropolitan)
Identify and mitigate risks“Our board reporting is tied to strategic risk, and we embed strategic risk into our Board reporting. So the board can see where things are tracking, they can see the medication errors, they can see the falls.” (Risk manager, rural)
Ensure accountabilityMeet front-line employees“On a regular basis the board has a meet and greet. We went to theatre and met with the infection control group. We went to the emergency department … we've met with cafeteria services.” (Chair, regional)
Hold staff to account“We have in place very clear procedures to make sure that we cover quality and safety, and distinct plans we follow of who's responsible, and timelines of when it needs to be done.” (Quality committee chair, rural)
Engage with consumers“[There] should be a relatively short piece of string between the decisions we're making and the effect on the patient … Community representatives have direct input in and get feedback out.” (Quality committee chair, regional)
Shape cultureRecruit good leaders“I know the energy that we put in at the board level. Just making sure that we've got the right people into these positions.” (Quality committee chair, rural)
Support ‘just’ culture“To get openness of reporting and responsiveness of our clinicians we need to provide a ‘just culture’ where they don't fear there are going to be ramifications simply because there have been errors.” (Risk manager, rural)
Foster innovation“Our doctors and nurses know that they can have a lot of control. If something can be done better, and the junior staff say ‘Look, I've seen this done better somewhere else’, we'll look at it.” (Medical director, rural)