The Annual Strategic Plan is Dead

The Annual Strategic Plan is Dead

See Better Results with A Year-Round Planning Process

By Jason Moore

Hospitals have traditionally created an annual strategic plan as a roadmap for achieving growth goals. While well-intentioned and inspiring, this form of planning often fails to produce meaningful results, leading many to question its value. Why repeat a process that doesn’t produce strong results?

Additionally, this routine is greatly driven by annual data reporting—a factor that is changing due to increased adoption of the more frequently updated all-payer claims data (APCD). Stratasan’s APCD updates monthly, for example, allowing for more frequent market reporting that can lead to plan adjustments.

There is also reason to believe that plans will be more widely adopted when more members of the organization are invested in the process. This can be a difficult change in mindset for organizations accustomed to planning that takes place only at the c-suite level.

How can hospitals shift to take advantage of more readily available data insights, ensure greater adoption, and see system growth? The answer is an iterative planning process that invites organization-wide input and applies data-backed market insights.



Why the Annual Planning Model Doesn’t Work

In today’s evolving healthcare environment, stagnant strategic plans simply can’t keep up. Annual plans are often outdated, shelved, and collecting dust before the year is over. Patient needs are continually evolving thanks to our fast-paced lifestyle, hyper connection to online media, and the unprecedented number of choices of provider and care options. Additionally, healthcare providers have access to nearly real-time patient data and can understand their patient population in a way that has rarely been possible in the past. These two factors are a big reason why the annual planning processes of the past don’t work today.


A Nimble, Flexible Approach is Better

An iterative planning process allows for adaptation as the year unfolds and ensures that your plans stay current and fresh. It includes ongoing results tracking so that teams can make changes as needed based on insights and findings. With this approach, the growth plan is never really complete. It’s flexible and ever changing because it course-corrects in response to data insights, which are now available more frequently than ever before.

Here are a few key driving forces behind an iterative planning process:

  • Identifiable Patient Behavior: Psychographics and demographics can be used to more effectively reach and connect with your patient population. By continually monitoring patient behavior patterns, teams can identify patterns and develop plans that will connect with the specific needs of your priority patient groups.
  • Increased Adoption of APCD: This data, which can be updated as often as monthly, allows hospitals planners to more accurately predict market fluctuations. The use of APCD, alongside EMR and other reliable data sources, can empower hospitals to be adaptable to market fluctuations in ways never before possible.
  • More Consistent Tracking and Reporting: A year-round planning strategy emphasizes ongoing tracking and reporting. For a step by step guide on how to track progress and measure success, click here. The insights gleaned from these regular progress check-ins will allow planners to notice when something isn’t working as planned. Changes can then be made which could lead to revised goals, budgets, or schedules. These potential changes are one reason why it’s important to involve as many members of the organization as possible in the process, something we’ll discuss in more detail next.


Jump-Start Commitment with Organization-Wide Alignment

Organizational alignment means that marketing, strategic planning, and physician relations teams are ALL aware of system-wide growth goals, they have a clear roadmap to follow, and they are aware of the tools and systems in place to help them to succeed. Click here for more on how to establish organizational alignment.

To more easily get buy-in to your strategic plans and ensure ongoing, year-round engagement and alignment, representatives from every level of your organization need to have input during the planning process—from strategic planners to analysts and members of the c-suite. Here’s why this approach is beneficial:

  • You’ll ensure that your plan truly reflects the needs of every team. If everyone feels their needs have been acknowledged, they will be more likely to stay involved.
  • You’ll jumpstart commitment to your strategy and the implementation plan. If people are involved from the beginning, they will feel more responsibility to see the plans through until goals are met.
  • You’ll set your organization up to be more successful, as all teams will be aware of the plan and expectations and will be able to adjust faster when changes are needed.

Click here to find out how Huggins Hospital successfully implemented input from every team during their strategic planning process.


The Takeaway

If your organization is hoping to implement more successful growth planning, then it’s time to consider an iterative planning process. Traditional, annual planning is no longer viable. But this revised approach can lead to tangible, measurable results.

For more information about how to initiate ongoing, data-based planning, schedule a discovery call with one of our experts today.

Article by Jason Moore, Founder & CEO of Stratasan

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