Strategic Management In Healthcare: What is it?
Strategic management in healthcare is the process of defining the future of your organization, setting goals that will move you toward that future, and determining the major projects you’ll take on to meet those goals. It also includes sustaining that strategy focus over a period of three to five years.
Why is strategic management important in healthcare?
Like other companies, healthcare organizations benefit from having a plan for the future—one that all employees are aware of and consistently working toward. Strategy should serve as a guidepost for all important decisions to make sure your facility stays on track.
But as we mentioned above, healthcare is even more complex than your average business—and frequently affected by external forces. If asked to describe how strategic management helps your facility control the future, we’d answer with the following:
- The strategic planning process naturally includes assessing changes in the external environment (through exercises like the SWOT analysis) and thus helps your organization stay on top of them.
- It provides focus and direction for daily work even as circumstances (internal or external) may change.
- It provides leaders with a consistent flow of information about organizational performance, promoting better, more timely decision-making. The availability of such data also helps organizations reprioritize or pivot as needed.
5 Tips For Healthcare Strategic Planning Professionals
1. Keep your organization’s mission top-of-mind.
Mission and vision are the cornerstones of your organization and provide a foundation for strategic planning. Make sure the priorities and objectives outlined in your plan support those key elements—and reconsider any goals that are not aligned.
2. Narrow your strategy’s focus.
Too many healthcare organizations try to be everything to everyone. As a result, their strategies touch nearly every base imaginable, from being the best at research and innovation to serving as many potential patients as possible to being customer-centric, etc. Narrowing down your strategy requires courage—it may feel as if you’re passing up opportunities to improve. But in reality, you run the risk of not excelling in anything if you’re trying to achieve everything. Home in on the areas you want to pursue and direct your resources and energy to accomplishing those specific goals.
3. Align your plan with in-progress accreditations or certifications.
If you’re pursuing an accreditation or award like PHAB or Baldrige, your strategic plan needs to align with that goal. Make sure your plan points you in the right direction and supports tracking all the data required by the administering body.
4. Do a SWOT analysis.
Periodically analyzing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats, is a useful exercise that can inform your strategic plan. Follow the steps outlined here to complete the analysis, and see some healthcare-specific examples.
Strategic plans are only effective if everyone knows about them. Every department head should be charged with explaining how their team fits into the strategy and why it matters. (Read some tips here on how to effectively communicate with employees.) You’ll also need to create tailored presentations for other stakeholders—patients, administrators, community members, etc.
And finally, remember: Don’t overload yourself and your team with goals and metrics right out of the gate—having too many makes it hard to prioritize and makes communication difficult. Ease into it. The first year, start by creating a high-level plan for the organization as a whole; the following year, try to tackle planning for business units, service lines, etc.