Strategic planning is a widely used management approach in modern organizations. Underpinning its popularity is the assumption that it is a successful practice both in private and public organizations that leave a positive impact on performance (Dennis, 2019). However, it is a concept that has been criticized for being overly rational and limiting strategic thinking. Strategic planning is a useful and valid tool for guiding all types of organizations including healthcare organizations. Nevertheless, the level at which it is applied depends on the unit size, complexity, and the differentiation of the services offered (Dennis, 2019). Healthcare is a process that is not limited to the health sector. As such, in the context of Western medicine, it is focused on the organized medical care of individuals. This is achieved through strategic planning of the healthcare organizational resources. Two of the strategic planning concepts, quality and value, and effective management of healthcare personnel have proved important in improving the quality of care offered in hospitals.
Strategic planning in the healthcare sector is often carried out by administrators who focus on the business side while clinicians concentrate on quality patient care. Hence, striking a healthy balance between the two is very important (George et al., 2019). Nevertheless, tension often arises between the value-driven approach and the volume-driven proponents of service delivery. In organizations facing economic downturns, temptations to decrease resources meant for improving quality are great. However, more than ever, the quality of care and safety of patients cannot be understated in strategic planning (George et al., 2019). Hence, the importance of publicly declared quality measures to healthcare organizations continues to increase as people are demanding more from these entities.
The challenge in the strategic process is finding a differentiating factor that relates to quality. Every player in the industry is striving to become “the best” but achieving this fit requires more than developing a quality scorecard (Ehrlich et al., 2020). However, being thoughtful and knowledgeable on what the clients’ needs is considered as a part of quality and value improvement. Some of the areas under consideration have improved patient flow and accessibility through the use of lean processes to improve the effectiveness and efficiencies in healthcare processes (Ehrlich et al., 2020). Leveraging technology, managing population health, and creating positive patient experiences are some of the quality measures for improving quality and value.
Healthcare organizations should continuously regulate personnel costs and productivity against the industry benchmarks. Most importantly, hospital administrators should regularly conduct salary surveys and compare their rates with that of the local competitors and state peers (Morciano et al., 2020). Additionally, hospitals require an adequate number of well-trained and highly accredited healthcare professionals. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between nurse-to-patient ratios and the safe patient outcomes (Morciano et al., 2020). Therefore, ensuring that that the organization has adequate staff levels has been linked to reduced medical errors, patient complaints, low mortality rates, and improvement in patient satisfaction.
In conclusion, strategic planning at healthcare organizations involves actionable steps that are needed to attain specific goals. Although there are different strategic types and levels, the purpose of strategic planning approaches is to bring an organization’s actions into congruent alignment with its stated mission or values. Two of the areas that were identified as important in strategic planning in a healthcare organization are quality and value, and management of healthcare personnel. The two concepts when they are well-handled increase public trust with the organization, increase patient flow, reduce medical errors, the patient complaints, and increase employees’ and patients’ satisfaction.
Dennis, C. (2019). Strategic planning – A health system operational perspective. Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy, 3, 32-32.
Ehrlich, H., McKenney, M., & Elkbuli, A. (2020). Strategic planning and recommendations for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 38(7), 1446-1447.
George, B., Walker, R., & Monster, J. (2019). Does strategic planning improve organizational performance? A Meta‐Analysis. Public Administration Review, 79(6), 810-819.
Morciano, C., Errico, M., Faralli, C., & Minghetti, L. (2020). An analysis of the strategic plan development processes of major public organisations funding health research in nine high-income countries worldwide. Health Research Policy and Systems, 18(1).