By Scott Herrmann
As a 15-year-old high school student seeking career advice, I was torn between going into medicine or business. The Chief Financial Officer of a large regional healthcare provider advised me to steer clear of the healthcare industry altogether. He said it was not the same as it used to be, and it was only going to get worse.
It is imperative for healthcare companies to have a strategy on how it will be prepared and respond to changing market conditions. Without a plan there is no direction.
At its core, the strategic planning process should seek to establish where the business is today and define where it needs to go in the future to sustain, and hopefully, grow itself. In other words, it is a gap analysis identifying the current state and envisioning the aspirational, or desired state, for the business over a stated future time period (e.g. the next three years). The key factors needed to move the business towards the new desired state establishes the action plan, which is what defines the strategic plan.
Strategic planning does require a certain commitment of time and honesty to assess critical functions of the business, such as the strength of the company’s brand and how it could be more strategically positioned.
It is important to assess whether the products or services being provided are still relevant, consistent and adaptable. Are the right skills represented on the team and where might key positions need to be added as the business grows? Do your software systems talk to each other and produce meaningful data to inform decision making?
Two Critical Questions
Additionally, there are two critical questions a business must ask itself when going through this process. First, what does success look like? This is the litmus test to assess whether the team can agree on the direction in which the business should be headed. Once a consensus is reached, the second question that must be answered is, are we built for growth?
This is really a euphemism for “change.” Assuming there is buy-in around what success really looks like, then are all stakeholders willing to make the changes necessary to ensure achieving success is possible?
Additional attention must be given to effectively communicate why the change is occurring. Putting a communication plan in place to effectively articulate how the change will be beneficial to them and the company will help foster an environment for the changes to occur.
High Quality Patient Care
In healthcare the focus of any strategic plan should center around providing high quality patient care and family support services.
Hosparus Health will be preparing a new strategic plan this year to provide a roadmap to position the organization for continued growth over the next three years. The leadership team, including the board of directors, will establish the goals that will define success for the organization. Our staff and engaged stakeholders will identify and prioritize the initiatives and metrics needed to align resources and monitor progress for our growth strategies. This living document will allow us to adapt as new opportunities arise.
-Scott Herrmann is chief strategy officer at Hosparus Health
Q&A with Scott Herrmann
Medical News: What does the strategic planning process at Hosparus look like?
Scott Herrmann: It started with the creation of a strategic planning committee, comprised of the executive committee of the board and the respective committee chairs, as well as Hosparus Health’s executive team.
A full-day retreat will start the planning process to review current market conditions followed by breakout sessions focused on each key driver of growth. Management will be visiting each community in-person to receive feedback on Hosparus Health’s strengths and opportunities.
The organization’s strategic goals will then be drafted and shared with the board and senior staff. Once confirmed, the goals will be shared with the organization and facilitated sessions will take place with each department to establish the respective departmental goals, initiatives and metrics.
All the departmental goals will be combined into a draft planning document, which will be presented to the strategic planning committee. The committee’s feedback will determine any necessary edits.
Additional engagement from the departments is expected in order to prepare the final plan for board approval in December. In total, the planning process will take approximately eight months to complete.
MN: What do you hope to achieve by developing a strategic plan?
SH: The main purpose of the strategic plan is to establish goals for our organization and an action plan on how to achieve them. A good plan will create alignment across our departments and employees around collective organizational goals.
MN: What challenges will you face (or expect to face)?
SH: We are deploying a new approach to strategic planning, so it will feel different than prior plans. We will also have to prioritize the deployment of resources, which may differ in opinion with some staff members.
Communication will be critical throughout the planning and beyond to ensuring the staff understands the “why” behind the priorities. The strategic plan is meant to be a living document, so as new insights arise, we will need to modify the plan. Ongoing communication will be necessary to keep the staff informed about the progress and insight on any changes.
MN: How will you measure success?
SH: Based on the effectiveness and timeliness of our ability to achieve the goals in the plan. Each goal will be assigned a metric(s) to measure our progress towards meeting the goal.
MN: As somebody coming from a non-healthcare background, where are the similarities and differences in developing a strategic plan?
SH: Strategic planning should be analogous across industries. There will be different market conditions and competitive factors to consider, but the intent should be similar. Where is the business today, what should it look like in the future, and how do we get there?