What is Healthcare Strategic Planning?
Nowadays, strategic planning is a survival tool for any healthcare organization – you survive by taking proactive steps toward a goal, not just addressing immediate problems as they arise. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) defines strategic planning as “the process of defining an organization’s direction and making decisions that align with its long-term goals,” (2023). It is an essential activity that helps anticipate and respond to changes in the healthcare environment. Strategic planning allows healthcare organizations to have a comprehensive analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Here are some of the benefits of strategic planning in healthcare:
- Adapt more effectively to changing situations: In a rapidly evolving field such as healthcare, we should minimize the risk of falling behind. For instance, hybrid and remote work is becoming the new preferred work setup, wherein facilities offer telehealth services or remote appointments for patients. Through strategic planning, your services will remain relevant and effective. You can use it to identify areas of improvement and develop strategies that guide your activities over the next several years.
- Focused patient care: Strategic planning helps you face technological advancements that cater to your patient’s personalized and high-quality experience. There are plenty of available options, so determining which one is right for your practice starts with planning. As a result, you improve the quality of care through a patient-centric approach, setting yourself apart from competitors.
- Set priorities and make difficult decisions: Every healthcare practice provider has areas with vital issues. For example, some need to face difficult choices like determining which services to continue to offer and which to discontinue. A healthcare strategic plan will illustrate the pros and cons of various options and make informed decisions that align with their long-term goals. This includes resolving the most significant issues first and brainstorming specific ways to address them.
We can’t control what happens in the future, but your practice can have a direction and plan to maximize your options for influencing your success. This is your framework for making smart day-to-day choices in alignment with your revenue and patient care objectives. Synapse Revenue Cycle Management can lend you an expert opinion on how to analyze your practice’s progress and know your best practices.
4 Essential Steps in Creating A Healthcare Strategic Plan
Whether you want to create a new strategic plan from scratch or revisit and improve your old one, you must follow a multi-step process. We have narrowed it down to four essential steps, which will help you understand how a strategic project is created. Remember, your strategic healthcare plan should be a living document that drives decision-making for leaders and teams.
Step 1: Initial Planning Phase
Firstly, you need to check if you have the right tools at your disposal to start the initial planning. You may utilize benchmarking in order to compare metrics in your organization to either an industry average or your competitors. On the other hand, you can see if a capability analysis can apply to your practice. This helps you think of your organization as a set of capabilities, resulting in identifying gaps that may represent a competitive weakness and highlighting new capabilities that could be a competitive advantage.
Then, market research will help you have a good indication of industry size, growth, and trends to be aware of. The main goals of the first step are to 1) clarify the scope of the strategic plan; 2) organize the planning process; and 3) identify stakeholders and the committee members who can develop and implement the plan.
Step 2: The Planning Phase
The majority of your strategy meetings will take place during this phase. This is the time to gain a basic understanding of what direction you’re trying to go in. Take into consideration your internal organizational structure and any external factors. At this point, you’ll want to pick out the goals and metrics you want to track. Just to give you an example: Most hospitals track metrics that deal with operations, finances, communication, internal issues, public health, and care.
Unlike traditional plans, strategic planning in health care takes into account foreseeable changes for all departments. There is a high degree of uncertainty, so advances in technology, changes in policies, and shifts in patient demographics can all have a significant impact. By contacting us, Synapse Revenue Cycle Management can assist you with our consultation services.
Step 3: Strategy Execution Phase
Once you have your complete plan approved by senior leadership, it’s time to translate your high-level strategic plan into an operational plan by honing in on projects and actions. Depending on your specialty, the execution phase can be particularly challenging. Communication is key – from stakeholders, faculty, and staff, to boards, alumni, philanthropists/foundations. You would need regular communications tied to the strategic plan progress. For example, the AHA launched a strategic plan that set a clear direction for the organization over the next decade in 2018.
They had ambitious goals of reducing the incidence of heart disease and stroke by 20% by 2020, improving the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by 2020, and increasing the number of people who receive CPR training and are prepared to respond to cardiac emergencies. However, the AHA recognized the importance of setting challenging targets that will improve patient health. As a result, they developed a comprehensive plan that included a wide range of activities. You may read more about their plan here.
Step 4: Plan Evaluation Phase
During this phase, prepare to refine your plan, evaluate performance, and report on your data. An implementation plan and scorecard are useful tools to facilitate this discussion. It may help if you have the following strategic planning techniques:
- S.W.O.T stands for ‘Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats’ and is a strategic planning technique that allows a clear overview of critical metrics in the competitive landscape.
- Brand Vision Strategy is used to define concrete objectives for your practice and set up trackable metrics for the overarching vision. It has three stages where you define higher goals and aspirations, have a risk assessment, and track your progress.
- Patient journey strategy (PJS) helps in visualizing your patient’s experience. It captures the path that a patient follows when they book an appointment, sign up for a care service membership, or otherwise interact with your medical business.
- Risk Assessment Matrix is a strategic framework that allows you to assess the urgency and the likelihood of any potential threat that might affect your practice. The risks in this framework are ranked from low probability and severity to the highest possible likelihood. In this way, you can better allocate your efforts across multiple aspects of your business based on the potential severity of any risk.
At Synapse, we understand the importance of planning ahead. With healthcare strategic planning, you can move directly toward your shared vision with a strategic plan and clear-cut revenue goals. We have an expert team of specialists who can be with you at every step of the planning process. Let’s work together to get you to your next level of success. You may call us at (844) 384 7532 or schedule a consultation at https://synhs.com/