Preparing for EHR implementation, ICD-10, insurance exchanges, additional volume due to mandatory coverage and increased eligibility for Medicaid may have many practices reeling with multiple priorities and concerns about their financial future.
Strategic planning and contingency planning are not just words, they are vital components to successful practices. Defining the fundamental purpose of a practice and how vision and values are incorporated is hard work. Strategic planning and decision processes should end with objectives and a road map of ways to achieve them. Strategic plans that do not include day to day projects and tasks to meet those goals have fallen short of the mark.
Who needs to be included in strategic planning meetings? Practice managers, IT, and accounts receivables directors, and finance directors are all stakeholders in strategic planning and should be included. As Strategic plans need to include legal and regulatory concerns, a representative supporting those issues should also be included.Both short term and long term goals should be considered as well as a way to measure how well the practice is meeting those goals.
A review of data is an important ingredient in Strategic planning. Knowing what data is critical and the best way to view that data will probably one of the first decisions the team makes.
Management and financial accounting, and examination of the marketing plan, strategic alliances, and current organizational process and structure are but a few of the items to focus on as a part of this important process.
Using a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis is a good way to begin and should be completed by each member prior to meeting. Each perspective is unique and the team can come to a consensus much more easily when team comes prepared and thinking.
Understanding the importance of strategic planning and not treating it as a ritualistic exercise is the objective of the practice leadership. It is leadership that will create the sense of urgency, keep the team focused and on task and end the process before it becomes cumbersome and participants lose interest.
What happens next is the real test of a good strategic plan. If the time and effort to create a strategic plan is not incorporated into daily activity immediately; then the plan is a wasted effort.
Communicating the plan is important to all employees. They need to know what the vision of management is and how they fit into that vision on a daily basis. Whether a practice is large or small; having a plan, knowing how you will reach goals and having a way to measure the completion of goals brings benefits to practices and gives them a road map to a financially secure future.