Developing a Strategic plan within the organization can provide a long term operational road map into the future. By defining the specific steps of how scarce resources will be best used these types of plans allow the organization to respond to a changing marketplace.
Strategic planning calls on management to anticipate certain logical future events based upon hard data. Management decisions should be based on accurate predictions of future changes in our environment, as opposed to emotional reactions to various crises as they occur. Planning for the future in our technology driven, dynamic health environment is critical to an organization’s continued success.
Strategic planning focuses largely on managing interaction with environmental forces, including competitors, government, suppliers, customers, various interest groups and other factors that affect your business and its prospects.
Because of major changes in the health environment, familiarity with strategic planning along with an ability to implement it is critical. At one time, healthcare managers assessed their environment on a continuum that ran between very stable and very unstable. Typically, in the past, this environment included competition that was limited to a stable group of competitors, loyal physician groups and patients linked to a relatively slow transfer of information. Many small businesses have had the opportunity to thrive in this environment.
Today, experts agree that more health care organizations face an unstable financial environment. Improvements in information processing, electronic health records, cloud storage and telecommunications have made major changes in health care delivery systems. Improvements in marketing communications and the growth of for-profit behavioral health chains have created a more competitive marketplace for health services.
Today’s consumers are exposed to more choices where loyalty has become less important than it once was; a slightly better deal or a temporary shortage of services can easily result in the loss of patients. Competitors also can change rapidly, with new ones appearing from out of nowhere (often this means the other side of the globe). With the instability of the behavioral health marketplace, it is important to make strategic planning part of all operational strategies.