When first starting a medical practice, many practitioners recognise the importance of writing a sound business plan that focuses on delivering immediate results; but in the commotion of the day to day, creating an ongoing strategic plan that can serve as a roadmap for growth often gets neglected. This roadmap can help you realise your vision for the clinic and maintain your competitive advantage.
Having a strategic plan also fosters buy-in from key decision makers in your clinic. McKinsey Research shows that following a formal strategic planning process significantly helps in the development of an effective strategy and improves your team's satisfaction with the approaches taken to implement it.
Three reasons why strategic planning is a must:
1. It addresses the speed at which the healthcare industry is changing
Technological developments are causing significant and rapid changes to the healthcare industry. These changes are occurring so swiftly that physicians who continue to practice as they have in the last five years will find they are increasingly at a disadvantage. Part of putting a strategic plan in place should include investigating how technology is providing new opportunities for physicians to improve the patient experience, optimise practice operations and boost the financial performance of their practice.
2. It brings everyone onto the same page
Having a strategic plan fosters collegiality among clinic staff and creates a setting in which you can focus on the direction of your practice. It also forms part of the process of developing a strong clinical leadership model where all staff are aware of the goals of the practice and can actively participate in a range of leadership tasks and roles beyond their current job title.
The shared responsibilities brought about by a distributed leadership approach gives both physicians and administrative staff a greater say in how a practice operates and encourages everyone to take on greater levels of responsibility.
3. It promotes an open culture
Part of your strategic plan should include steps and actions that promote an open culture that encourages the creative exchange of ideas. This culture should also create a forum for raising issues for open discussion and putting disagreements out on the table to establish effective long-lasting solutions. This may present itself in the shape of monthly or quarterly meetings with key members of your practice staff to discuss successes, challenges and identifying actions that can be taken to improve clinic processes and the quality of care delivered.
How to write an effective strategic plan for your practice:
Step 1: Determine where your practice is now
It is vital that you objectively assess the current state of your practice. This should be an open and honest analysis of what your practice already does well and where it could be improved.
Step 2: Identify the short term focus
The emphasis here should be to define the kind of health services you want to provide and the practice you want to create.
Step 3: Develop a long term direction
With clear consideration given to your vision for the practice, map out what the direction looks like including goals, value proposition and clear competitive advantage.
Step 4: Detail the plan and set accountability
With a clear vision and goals in mind, the next step involves highlighting the tools and strategies you can use to in order to get there, both in the short and long term. Set clear roles and responsibilities for the team as these will assist in empowering as well as placing ownership for successful implementation.
Step 5: Review, review, review
Always view your strategic plan as a living document rather than just a folder sitting on a shelf. Schedule formal quarterly reviews so that you can assess your progress on implementing previous objectives and setting new objectives as you make progress towards your long term goals.
Over to you
Healthcare is a complex and fast paced industry that can be challenging to navigate without a plan. Technology developments and changing patient expectations mean that new opportunities exist to improve the patient experience and take advantage of more cost effective approaches.
A strategic plan also forms part of taking on a business and entrepreneurial mindset. By thinking like an entrepreneur, clinicians can design their practice with a focus on nimbleness and adaptability. More on how to think like an entrepreneur in our new guide below.
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