3 Tips for Creating a Hospital Strategic Plan in Times of Uncertainty

A hospital's strategic plan describes the organization's long-term goals and how it will reach those goals. With the healthcare industry in a state of flux — the Supreme Court may strike down part or all of the healthcare reform law — hospitals may have difficulty predicting how the facility will have to operate in the future to be successful. However, strategic plans need to be built to withstand the changes of time; objectives need to align closely with the hospital's overall mission to ensure success regardless of specific legislation or trends. John Stanton, executive consultant for healthcare management consulting firm Beacon Partners, shares three tips for creating a strong strategic plan in the face of uncertainty.

1. Get back to the basics. "There is a scramble to update strategic plans to address the many changes [in the healthcare industry], but that is a mistake," Mr. Stanton says. "Leadership needs to look to the basics. Strategic planning is not about addressing the here and now, but the future." Some basic elements of a strategic plan include mission, vision and value statements; a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis; and alignment with the organization's identity.

2. Look to other industries. When developing a strategic plan in an uncertain economic and regulatory environment, hospital leaders should look to other industries for inspiration, according to Mr. Stanton. For example, he says organizations that survived the changes in the financial industry were nimble. "In healthcare, you need to make nimbleness a strategic value of your organization with the onslaught of changes," he says. "For instance: How engaged is your organization with ICD-10 changes? Do you view it as a threat or an opportunity? Is your culture strong enough to embrace the changes? Are your processes and systems documented and indoctrinated well enough to adapt quickly?"

3. Include technology planning. Hospitals should integrate technology capabilities into their strategic plans to create tactics for meeting long-term goals. "If your organization is like most in healthcare, technology management is run as almost a separate entity or a necessary evil. This is a mistake. Good strategic planning aligns the organizational goals with the technology that can help enable it," Mr. Stanton says.

More Articles on Strategic Planning:

42 Tips for Building, Promoting a Hospital Brand
Hospital Strategies for Surviving in a Changing Healthcare Environment

How Hospital Leaders Can Evolve Strategies in the Short and Long Terms

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