How Hefty Are Your Plans?

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Last week I talked about the delicate balancing act all healthcare providers must stick to in today's evolving operating environment, just like a circus elephant standing at a point balance on a ball that could slip away at any second. I closed my blog with a mention that while much of the future landscape and realization of the full potential of ACO's is still unknown, there are many areas where healthcare leaders can focus today to poise themselves for results in this changed future. To me, the first step to getting our industry closer to that balance point is a keen understanding of your organization's own market. Just as understanding the terrain to be covered is essential before beginning any journey, developing strong, external facing strategic plans that focus on the consumer will be essential to the transformation of the healthcare industry.

Develop Strong, Customer Facing Strategic Plans

Historically, strategic plans have been documents that were developed every three to five years by providers to define large scale actions like additions to the service line portfolio or facility development. These plans rarely contained a full blueprint for the success and performance of the organization and many times contained items that were never implemented.

Instead of these static plans, I advise that the annual strategic planning process assess key market trends, customer needs, the competitive landscape, and other strategic measures to increase its effectiveness, agility, and to make it more actionable. I have found that these strategic planning processes can be essential in insuring that tipping points in the market and customer sentiment are identified and provider strategies are shifted accordingly.

Strategic plans should also make decisions regarding service portfolio mix and even more importantly, how hospitals, physicians and other provider partners should work together in their care delivery system (ACO or other). These decisions need to be made on the basis of a well-reasoned and data based plan rather than on an opportunistic basis.

Lastly, plans should not only be used to establish goals for growth and service mix, they should incorporate quality and cost goals as well. These latter attributes will be of growing importance to providers to help differentiate in the market and in establishing a definite pathway to excellence.

Come back next week as I expand further on focusing on the consumer.


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