Strategic growth planning is a useful process for guiding the future of all types of organizations, especially hospitals and healthcare systems. If your organization is seeking to grow but doesn’t have a strategic growth plan in place, it’s time to start doing the valuable work necessary to create one.
What is Strategic Growth Planning?
Strategic growth planning is the systematic process whereby your organization creates a strategy to determine the way it plans to progress from its current situation to its desired future situation. The plan identifies growth priorities specific to your organization and the settings in which it operates. It generates a strategic growth vision for how your organization wishes to be in the future. Lastly, it establishes a roadmap of actions that are required to transform your organization’s current situation into the desired future situation.
It is important to understand that your strategic growth plan must have data as it’s foundation. If growth is your objective but you are not using on-the-ground intelligence about your hospital, healthcare system, patient market, population, or service area, then your plan is just a stab in the dark that won’t produce the desired outcomes.
Stratasan believes that data-driven decision making is the most reliable and accurate way for leaders in healthcare to understand how they are capitalizing on their resources in terms of resources, services, people, and finances, to make more informed strategic growth decisions. You can read more about data-driven decision making and the DIKW pyramid in this blog post.
The Importance of Having a Strategic Growth Plan
A wide range of challenges face hospitals and healthcare systems each day. Organizations must constantly manage issues that include finances, human resources, government policies and mandates, technology, and patient satisfaction. In order to grow strategically, it is crucial for healthcare leaders to take a step back from their daily duties to examine the state of the organization and thoughtfully create a data-driven, strategic growth plan.
The Process of Strategic Growth Planning
There are many paths that lead to an effective strategic growth plan. Here is an outline of a classic approach that will work for any hospital or healthcare system.
Step 1 – Review and Update Your Organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values to Make Sure They Align with Your Strategic Growth Goals. The mission is a statement that defines the final aim of the organization. The vision is an inspirational statement that presents what the organization will look like after the transformation. The organization’s values are a set of rules and cultural principles that give your organization character and soul. Review each of these thoughtfully and ensure that they align with your growth goals. If they are constructed in a way that could be inhibitive to growth, consider rewriting them to be more conducive to a growth mindset.
Step 2 – Conduct a Business and Operational Analysis. It is essential that your organization examine its internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats and consider how each is helping or hindering system growth. This is typically done by conducting a SWOT Analysis. At this stage, it is helpful to engage stakeholders from across the organization. Including their perspectives in the plan will not only improve the plan, it will also help gain buy-in early in the strategic growth planning process.
Step 3 – Develop Strategic Options. At this stage, it is important to review all possible strategies that will help you achieve your strategic growth goals. Start by brainstorming a list of options. After all of the options have been discussed, select a few that best correlate with what your healthcare organization wants its future to be.
Hospitals and healthcare systems seeking growth must consider strategic options that will accomplish that goal. Does growth mean expanding a particular service line? Breaking into a new demographic? Marketing directly to consumers? Or, does growth require a merger with, or acquisition of, other healthcare organizations?
Remember that each strategic option on your list must be based on data-driven intelligence to be effective. Evaluating the current state of your healthcare organization, your market, your competitors, and industry trends will help your organization select feasible objectives in Step 4.
Step 4 – Select Strategic Growth Objectives. Start this step by narrowing the list of options brainstormed in Step 3 to result in specific strategic growth objectives. The work in this stage also involves validating key measures and timelines for each objective. Only after this analysis takes place can the objectives be formulated into a strategic plan that will lead to growth.
To be most effective, the strategic growth objectives should follow the SMART protocol. Each objective must be specific, measurable (based in data), achievable, realistic, and time-bound. At this stage, your organization’s strategic growth plan document is complete.
Step 5 – Develop the Strategy Execution Plan. At this point, your strategic growth planning team must determine the most effective way to execute the strategic growth plan. The strategic growth plan needs ownership at the executive level as well as at the staff level. Identify champions of the strategic growth plan at all levels of the organization and have them help define what’s in it for the people they influence. It is important to include all verticals of your organization in this process - marketing, strategy, and planning, and business development teams should all have buy-in. There are opportunities all across the organization for strategic growth, make sure each team is aligned in the goals and doing their part to execute the plan.
Another consideration is whether or not you are equipped with all the in-house resources needed to accomplish the strategic growth initiatives being discussed. Should an outside partner with data-driven expertise, such as Stratasan, be considered? Stratasan’s Spark Services is a diverse team of experts with specialized skills in GIS mapping, health analysis, and data handling, and is a complement and extension to any hospital planning team. If you internal team is not equipped or specialized in training to handle specific initiatives, this outside partnership should be a part of your strategic growth plan consideration.
Additionally, Stratasan’s in-house experts are available to step in and provide support during peak engagement times throughout the year, allowing your team to focus on the interpretation (not creation) of intelligence and higher level thinking and strategic decision making.
Step 6 – Perform Resource Allocations. Executing a strategic growth plan requires funding, staffing, and other resources to be allocated to each of your strategic growth objectives. If the resources don’t exist, consider revising the timeline for that objective or eliminating that objective entirely. Or, make the creation of those resources a part of the strategic growth plan. This might include adding external partners to help in areas such as data analytics, legal considerations, marketing, or financial issues.
Step 7 – Execute the Plan. With the plan written, buy-in achieved throughout the organization, and resources allocated, your organization is ready to execute the strategic growth plan.
Step 8 – Periodically Review the Plan’s Execution. A key factor impacting the success of your organization’s strategic growth plan is periodic and ongoing review. It is important to take a look at the plan and measure the progress made. This requires reporting mechanisms from the person responsible for each strategic growth objective to the person or team in charge of implementing the plan. When deviations are identified, it is time to get the plan back on track. When challenges are identified, it may be necessary to change the direction of one or more of the strategic growth objectives.
Creating a strategic growth plan is crucial for a healthcare organization’s looking to successfully grow and increase influence within their service area. Without one, your system can be a rudderless ship that is guided only by the winds of the economy, government policies and mandates, and the many issues that are outside of your control. Your strategic growth plan ensures that everyone in your organization is working toward a clearly expressed growth outcome. It takes a strong, organization-wide commitment to create and execute a strategic plan. But, end the end, it’s worth it.
Article by Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP of Healthcare Strategy for Stratasan