At this year’s WSMA annual meeting, we solicited feedback from the House of Delegates on piloting a new governance structure. Our existing governance structure has evolved little over the past century. As Dr. Ray Hsiao, new WSMA president, noted in his inaugural speech:
“…buggy whips were a fine product and a useful tool in their day, 125 years ago. But horses and buggies have morphed into sleek vehicles with high performance engines driven by sophisticated electronic systems.
“It is time for us to design a structure that still has its finger on the pulse of physicians, but is nimble and flexible enough to allow us to respond to our fast-changing times.
“We must be careful not to lose the individual voice of our diverse membership as we go about reshaping our governance structure.
“For this we want—we will need—your input to be successful.”
In May, the WSMA Executive Committee presented the Board of Trustees with an alternative governance structure for consideration. This new structure would delegate policy-making responsibilities to a “policy forum” made up of the Board of Trustees and expand the WSMA council and committee structure in order to get broader input into policy decisions and create opportunities for leadership advancement within the WSMA.
Over the next few months, we’d like to encourage all WSMA members to review the pilot proposal and share their input with us. The documents are available at wsma.org/governance-forum for review and online discussion.
The WSMA is not alone in looking at governance changes. Associations of all types are dealing with the challenges created by changing markets driven by macroeconomic shifts, generational changes in actual or potential members, and broad societal trends. Medicine itself is facing unprecedented changes in how health care is delivered. These changes are affecting medical associations, requiring them to be nimble and show value to their members. Healthy associations will view these challenges as opportunities to improve their business and governance models with the overall goal of improving the value they give to their members.
In fact, while the WSMA House was discussing a pilot, Colorado Medical Society’s House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to re-engineer its structure. Similar to the pilot being suggested by the WSMA, Colorado voted to dissolve its House and shift to a “realigned model that connects a streamlined board to the wide possible spectrum of its physician constituencies.”
Colorado’s new structure – Throughout the year, physicians can participate in the Colorado association through a virtual grassroots policy forum that will:
- Empower any member, component society, group of physicians or specialty society to submit resolutions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Provide flexibility for physicians to identify and engage on policy issues immediately relevant to them.
- Weigh in on policy issues directly with the board of directors before and after they vote.
- Require the board to use an automatic reconsideration rule if members are not strongly aligned with decisions on policy.
Please take a moment to visit wsma.org/governance-forum, read the material about the WSMA’s pilot proposal and offer your input. The proposal is a work in progress. Now we need your input to help shape a governance process that meets all of our members’ needs.