Strategic Planning in Healthcare – 12 Crucial Questions

Strategic Planning in Healthcare

Strategic planning in healthcare starts by measuring end goals against your current standing. It examines obstacles that sit between where your healthcare organization is and where it should be. When done right, “a strategic map” will create the perfect ecosystem for sustained success by zeroing in on specific areas for action.

Strategic planning in healthcare will first tell you where changes must occur to reach your goals, or if they are even attainable. From there, the success of your plan depends on implementation. The good news is that you don’t have to start from nothing.

Unlike short-term planning, a strategy-based approach begins at the goal and works backward to meet you where you are and take you forward . . . far forward.

Strategic planning in healthcare favors long-term sustainable goals over instant gratification and the success of this type of planning directly correlates with the strategic manager and the organization’s ability to plan and implement correctly.

The first phase of strategic planning in healthcare is discovery and preparation

Initially ask yourself these 12 Crucial Questions:

  1. What are the services that we currently offer and why?
  2. Should those service lines be changed, deleted or enhanced in any way?
  3. Have we diversified too much?
  4. Have we diversified not enough?
  5. What should be the “core services” that we market in the coming year?
  6. How do I prepare for the “onslaught” of technology in the healthcare industry?
  7. How do we market?
  8. How do we target?
  9. Who are your patients/customers?
  10. Do you have an online presence which will attract patients?
  11. Do you manage or monitor your social media “footprint”?
  12. Are you “on top” of all relevant regulatory changes coming up?

What works for one clinic or hospital may not necessarily work for another. Examine where your organization is in the healthcare “environment”.  There are demographics, costs and other considerations unique to each medical setting.

You should prepare by gathering all existing reports that describe your healthcare organization’s current standing and begin to focus on a more wide-ranging work plan.  A SWOT analysis can also be extremely helpful to get a better look at your strengths and weaknesses.  The competitive analysis will help identify what other healthcare organizations are planning and how they compare to you.

Trends and predictors in healthcare can help you set the right goals

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the elderly population will represent 17 percent of the population by 2020. How will your healthcare organization handle this upward trend?  In 2019, healthcare premiums are set to increase across most demographics. How will you continue to serve your patients when premiums potentially put healthcare out of reach for some? How will you replace potential lost revenue when patients can’t afford services?

Seattle Children’s Hospital, for example, recently released their goals as they pertain to their strategic healthcare plan, and it’s clear they looked at predictors, especially in the areas of healthcare technology.

Maybe your goal is to expand your practice or move further toward value-based reimbursement. What steps will you take to satisfy this coming requirement?

It is important to examine existing and impending government regulations and laws, including healthcare technology policies, when it comes to developing your plan.

Reasons why strategic planning in healthcare may not work

  • The planning process is not based on quality activities.
  • No proper data collection first and readjustments of one’s thinking.
  • No “what if” scenarios are planned for, only wishful thinking.
  • Nobody is asking the “customer” what they think, believe, and want.
  • Professional expertise is not included in the strategic planning process.
  • The stakeholders are not convinced of the necessity of the process.
  • No participation by those people who are supposed to implement the plan.
  • A missing simple “unique selling” proposition.
  • Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.

Developing and implementing your strategic plan correctly is crucial

Now that you’ve measured where you are as opposed to where you want to be, it’s time to develop and implement strategies that will take your healthcare organization to the next level.

When you set out to officially develop your plan, it is important to identify strategies and objectives as well as establish performance indicators to know how your plan is doing and where you will need adjustments.

The following aspects of implementation are important:

  • Focus on department planning, assign aspects of your plan to specific people and develop an accountability system by negotiation.
  • Make sure to budget for resources.
  • Don’t just have a priority. Turn priorities into real action plans.
  • Update the organizational structure to complement your plan more efficiently.
  • Measure your results periodically.

Remember, these plans work best when done quickly and on a small enough scale, to be realistic!

No matter what your objectives are, proper strategic planning is the best way to achieve them.  In strategic planning, expert-level support is essential and far too important to entrust to trial and error.

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