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Strategic Planning in Healthcare: Analyzing Internal Factors to Achieve Critical Success

"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver."
Mahatma Ghandi

Strategic planning in healthcare is similar to strategic planning in for-profit businesses. Your organization gathers information related to internal and external factors, determines the right objectives and goals, and implements a strategy to achieve them. To start on the right foot, we wanted to provide a closer look at how to analyze internal factors in a healthcare organization, specifically strengths and weaknesses and they can help you address improvement in one of the five areas of critical success in healthcare.

What Are the Critical Success Factors in Healthcare?

In order for your organization to succeed, whether you are part of a large hospital or healthcare network or a new physician’s practice, your strategic plan should always have a key goal in one of five core areas (Harrison, 2021).

As you perform an internal analysis, it’s important to weigh your objectives based on the needs of the following:

  • Healthcare quality: Does the quality of care meet patient needs?
  • Patient access: Are their common obstacles stopping prospective patients from accessing the care they need, such as cost, location, transportation, or societal norms.
  • Retaining employees: Turnover in healthcare drives up costs significantly
  • Differentiation among competitors: Consider how you can attract more patients away from competing healthcare organizations, whether it’s choosing your hospital or physician’s office.
  • Alignment of resources: Does your organization’s allocation of capital, staff, and other resources align with your mission statement?

Each of the five core areas do affect the others and strategic planning can lead to a “balanced scorecard” (Fawcett, Watson-Thompson, Fox, Bremby, 2010.) to achieve greater overall success. For example, if a large population of patients can’t access proper preventative care, their health concerns can become more severe, leading to poorer outcomes, staff that is stretched too thin, and resources diverted to critical care. Thus, you would make patient access a part of your strategic planning objectives in which you set goals and implement strategies to improve patient access to preventative care.

Does Your Mission Lead to Satisfying Core Factors?

The first part of analyzing internal factors means looking closely at your organization’s mission, vision, and values. Do they support the five core factors outlined above? We would recommend your leadership team and those involved in this process to look closely at your organization’s mission statement and see how it’s applied to supporting healthcare quality, patient access, retaining employees, standing out from competitors, and aligning resources. Once you have a clear view of this, determine your organization’s current values and how they support the five core factors.

For example, if you deem “compassion” as a value of your organization, how does this support the five factors? Compassion is deemed an essential part of holistic care, it allows you better understand the needs of your community, and keeps your resources focused on serving your patients. On the other hand, if “efficiency” is a value, how would this support patient care or retaining employees?

If your leadership team feels like your current mission statement or the spoken values of your community properly support the five core factors we’ve listed, it may be necessary to update the vision of your organization and, more importantly, get your entire team involved (Pellegrin and Currey, 2011).

Using a SWOT Analysis in Healthcare

Once your leadership team has touched base with their mission statement and values to see where there are gaps, it’s important to look at internal strengths and opportunities that are helping and hindering your ability to excel. While we’ve discussed the challenges of a SWOT analysis, this planning tool allows you to measure the internal strengths and weaknesses of your healthcare organization can be highly beneficial.

Understanding Strengths

Examples of strengths your healthcare organization may include are:

  • Access to technology
  • Medical specializations
  • An experienced staff or renowned medical team
  • Donors or foundations that provide capital.
  • Established name in your community or market

Awareness of Weaknesses

Determining your weaknesses may be more challenging but it’s important to determine what internal issues may be standing in your way of meeting the five core factors of your healthcare organization. Examples often include:

  • High turnover of staff
  • Poor communication between departments
  • Limited services to patients
  • Inability to bring in new patients due to marketing challenges
  • Issues with reputation
  • Poor location

When you look objectively at your internal strengths and weaknesses and how they support or challenge your ability to thrive in your five core factors, you’ll have a foundation in place for creating goals and building a strategy to meet them.

Schedule a Consultation for Strategic Planning in Minneapolis

If you are looking to take your organization in a new direction or you’re struggling to know what goals to set for your healthcare practice, working with an experienced strategic planning firm can help. At Woodland Strategies, we can sit down with you to look at your strengths and weaknesses, factor in external or environmental issues, and provide the tools and insights you need to determine the right steps for your organization and put a plan in place to achieve your goals. Fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation with our team today to get started.

Fawcett S, Schultz J, Watson-Thompson J, Fox M, Bremby R. Building multisectoral partnerships for population health and health equity. Prev Chronic Dis. 2010;7:1–7. Available at: Accessed online 12/18/2021. Harrison, Jeffrey P. PhD. American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Essentials of Strategic Planning in Healthcare. Accessed online 12/18/2021. Pellegrin, K .L, and H. S. Currey. 2011. “Demystifying and Improving Organizational Culture in Health-care.” In Organization Development in Healthcare: Conversations on Research and Strategies, edited by J. A. Wolf, H. Hanson, M. J. Moir, L. Friedman, G. T. Savage, 3–23. Volume 10 of Advances in Health Care Management.

This article or any other promotional material(s) from Woodland Strategies, Inc. is in no way intended to be a comprehensive plan.

Please note all markets, circumstances, and results vary. Any strategic plan or marketing initiatives must follow all State and Federal laws and regulations, accordingly.

Please contact us directly for a complete assessment and plan for your individual organizational needs.

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