The purpose of strategic healthcare planning is to set a path for the future of your practice, but many people mistake it for tactical problem-solving. To help illustrate the difference, here are three things physician owners of private medical practices should keep in mind when planning: connecting the vision and the mission of the practice growth plan, identifying the timing and need of a plan, and creating high-functioning teams and promoting a solid culture.
Finding the Vision and Mission
As I said in my previous article, trying to think three to five years into the future can often lead to analysis paralysis, or the inability to make a decision due to prolonged over-analyzing of a situation. The best way to avoid paralysis is to break down the plan into components, addressing each of them as part of the plan and ensuring you have the right people involved in the conversation. This is the first step: identifying why you’re doing what you’re doing — aka, the mission — where you’re going or the vision, how you’re going to get there and what you need to address to accomplish this.
Once you’ve defined your mission, the next step is to outline your vision – where you want to be in three to five years. Figure out how you’re going to get there and which clients will help you reach that goal. This usually opens up new thinking: you might think your customers are your patients, but when you’re thinking strategically, you may realize that the definition of clients might expand to include your vendors and even the community.
Getting the Timing Right
All strategic plans need a rethink after several years due to changes in operations, the mission, or vision, or if you’ve accomplished your original goal. Though it may be hard to identify the right time to start and execute a strategic plan, here are some general guidelines to follow for your organization:
If you’ve recently made significant changes in your organization and leadership, such as a new CEO or multiple new board members.
If there have been new or updated health-related regulations that affect you, your practice and your customers.
I recommend not starting your strategic planning if there any major changes on the horizon because it’s better to wait until after those changes, so you have all the information to form a plan.
Leadership, Teams and Culture
Leadership is key to creating a successful plan. Strategic planning requires a bit of risk-taking, and your team should be aligned on risk tolerance. You’re creating a plan where there are no immediate metrics, and you’re asking, “Is what I’m doing today going to work a month or quarter out?”
Before starting the planning process, take the time to assess your team. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Are they mostly tactical or operational? What are their limitations, and what elements are missing? Once you’ve done the assessment, you can look for new stakeholders, vet their skills and create high-functioning teams. Remember to hire for fit as well as skill set because a good culture is key to a successful strategic plan.
Communicating the Plan
Strategic planning may happen in the boardroom with a small group of people, but the success of the plan relies on everyone in the practice buying into and supporting the plan. That means creating a communications strategy around the plan. About 70 percent of the time, the plan is not communicated and fails.
Your communication plan should go out to the people in your practice, the public, your consumers and your vendors. It ensures that you will have the support and the motivation to achieve your goals.
In my next article, I’ll discuss how to find the necessary information to create and measure the impact of your strategic healthcare planning.
Meet the Author
Partner, Healthcare Business Advisor
Kate Othus, MHA
Aldrich Core Consulting
Kate serves as our firm’s healthcare practice leader and is recognized in the healthcare industry as an expert on best practices for practice administration. In her role as CEO for her clients, she is responsible for developing business strategy, including establishing policies, goals and mission statements. She also closely monitors a practice’s service lines and…
- Healthcare practice assessments
- Risk and compliance assessments
- Clinic operational assessments
- Practice profitability improvement
- Dashboard and key performance indicators
- Strategic planning for healthcare organizations
- Practice management and CEO services
- Multi-specialty and single specialty clinics
- Private medical practice management
- Practice adminstration and revenue cycle
- Medical practice start-ups
- Analysis of ancillary services