Strategic Planning in Health Care

Strategic planning in health care has been a matter of considerable interest in academia. The American healthcare system is often referred to as costly and ineffective, which makes researchers and practitioners look for innovative approaches to management. Health-related organizations try to utilize effective decision-making tools to ensure their sustainable development. This paper summarizes an article that addresses strategic planning issues in health care and sheds light on the healthcare market factors influencing strategic decision-making in the field.

The article in question is entitled “Applications of artificial neural networks in health care organizational decision-making: A scoping review” and published in 2019. Shahid et al. (2019) implemented a review of recent literature on the use of artificial neural networks (ANN) in health care. The researchers searched among over 3,300 articles found on six databases. The sources were published between 1997 and 2018, with studies that originated from over twenty countries. The majority of the reviewed studies were from the United States. The majority of the reviewed articles (61 sources) explored the decision-making process at the micro-level (between the healthcare organization and patients). However, a considerable number of studies (39 articles) examined decision-making at meso- and macro-levels.

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It is stated that ANNs are common machine learning techniques that facilitate the decision-making process in healthcare. The focus of these networks is mainly on clinical aspects such as diagnosis, disease prediction, stay length prediction, and prescribing among others (Shahid et al., 2019). At that, such applications have been updated and improved in diverse ways, making them applicable in strategic planning. At present, healthcare managers benefit from the use of ANNs in such areas as organizational management, cost prediction, facility and resources utilization estimation. The application of these instruments has proved to be effective, which is supported by the findings of the review under consideration.

It is noteworthy that the article in question sheds light on the major healthcare market factors that have an influence on the decision-making process in the area. Competition is one of the forces mentioned in the article, and it is regarded as one of the most potent factors affecting the decisions made by healthcare managers (Shahid et al., 2019). Health-related organizations have to operate in a highly competitive environment, so managers need to come up with innovative ideas and techniques. Competition in the healthcare market is also defined as an important driver of organizations’ development in a study implemented by Patri and Suresh (2017). The researchers also add that organizational agility is one of the ways to address the challenges associated with fierce competition in the market.

One of the ways competition in the healthcare market impacts decision-making is related to the allocation of resources. Healthcare managers try to ensure the use of resources to meet the needs of patients while trying to increase their profit. The availability of facilities and equipment at specific sites is often improved with the help of ANNs, which makes organizations more competitive (Shahid et al., 2019). The provision of the right services at the right time and in the right place makes healthcare facilities more attractive to customers who often need to address acute health issues.

Another important healthcare market factor affecting decision-making is workforce costs and availability. On the one hand, global health care, including the US system, experiences a lack of manpower, which is especially apparent in primary care (Shahid et al., 2019). The lack of nursing practitioners in health care is becoming rather alarming, and healthcare managers have to address this problem in different ways. ANNs are instrumental in the development of schedules and patterns with the optimal use of the labor force. On the other hand, the costs of the workforce are also increasing, so healthcare organizations need to allocate funds wisely due to the scarcity of resources.

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Cross-functional collaboration is another peculiarity of the healthcare market mentioned in the article under analysis. Shahid et al. (2019) note that healthcare organizations often collaborate with each other, forming cross-functional teams, which is often associated with research and the development of innovative strategies to deliver care. Health-related organizations also collaborate with other companies, such as software developers, which results in the creation of new products and services. Shahid et al. (2019) note that such collaboration projects often lead to the development of simulations or other digital tools that improve patients’ experiences.

In conclusion, it is necessary to state that the healthcare market is characterized by such peculiarities as competition, workforce scarcity, and increasing costs, as well as cross-functional collaboration. Healthcare managers benefit from the use of ANNs that are instrumental in making effective strategic decisions. These applications are helpful in making decisions regarding the use of resources, forecasting, staff management, and costs management. Importantly, these digital tools enable managers to make quick and winning decisions, which is critical in the competitive environment. Healthcare organizations now face various challenges related to economic, social, and political areas, so the strategic decision-making process facilitated by effective instruments is critical for the entire healthcare system.

References

Patri, R., & Suresh, M. (2017). Modelling the enablers of agile performance in healthcare organization: A TISM approach. Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management, 18(3), 251-272. Web.

Shahid, N., Rappon, T., & Berta, W. (2019). Applications of artificial neural networks in health care organizational decision-making: A scoping review. PLOS ONE, 14(2), 1-22. Web.

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