There are many different models and action steps for strategic planning. However, it is not advisable to try to “jump straight”.
3 advantages for medical strategic planning
Doing some basic pre-work will help ensure a more successful strategic planning process. So, here are three advantages to strategic medical planning.
Agree on a strategic planning process
You must provide an understanding of what strategic planning is and how it is done. As well as discussing its potential value for practice, in terms of providing a common vision and focus with agreed goals and strategies.
Consider the costs of doing strategic planning, in terms of staff time and other resources, and what might be necessary to develop a plan. If the practice is in crisis or financial or organizational unstable, it may be difficult or unwise to enter a strategic planning process until immediate problems and needs have been successfully addressed.
Consider whether the practice is “ready” for a long-term plan or whether it may be better to focus on a short-term plan, perhaps making a one-year plan and then undertaking longer-term planning at the end of that year. If strategic planning seems appropriate, consider what procedures or steps can be used to establish and implement a strategic plan.
Run a SWOT analysis
Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to provide an understanding of how the practice engages with your patients, community, and competitors. Look at changing demographics, community values, economic trends, the implications of new or changing laws and regulations affecting your practice, and consider their impact on your practice and the patient population you serve.
Consider the opportunities and challenges related to practice resources and reimbursement. Also, observe actual and potential collaborators and competitors. Depending on the size of your area of influence, this process may involve something as extensive as a community needs assessment with interviews, focus groups, and email surveys conducted by a consultant.
The internal component of the analysis can include several components or approaches. You may want to evaluate the performance of the current practice in terms of financial and personnel resources, services offered, and results. Try to understand how patients or general community stakeholders view the practice.
Once you have that information, be sure to further analyze the reasons for the perceived weaknesses.
Identify key problems, questions, and options.
Identify key issues, questions, and options that will be addressed as part of the strategic planning effort.
This may mean specifying “strategic issues” or questions that the practice should address and prioritizing in terms of time or importance. If there is little disagreement about problems and priorities, it is possible to move immediately to the vision of the practice and then to the objectives.
If there is disagreement on the general directions and goals of the practice, it may be important to explore problem priorities and identify critical options.
Exploring options can be done in a number of ways. For example, you may want to ask those involved to identify strategic issues from the SWOT analysis, and have individuals identify a specific number of those issues and indicate why each is strategic, including the benefits of addressing them and the negative consequences of do not address them.
The consultant working with the group could work to identify the strategic issues that emerge from the SWOT analysis and then prioritize them in terms of importance, timeliness, and feasibility.
The result should be one set of strategic issues that will be addressed as part of the strategic planning process, and a second set that will not be addressed or will receive limited attention during the process. But that will be considered by the doctors or the appropriate personnel.
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