Medical practices are taking note of the importance of strategic planning, as they tread the unknown waters of healthcare reform and adapt to changes they may not have invited if given a choice. But do the key stakeholders of most private medical practices really understand what it takes to succeed with efforts to create and successfully execute a strategic plan? Do they know the importance of developing an authentic and that in order to be authentic it must be driven by the practice mission?

If the strategic plan is not authentic in consistently delivering on the mission it is likely to fail.  But if it is authentic, it will guide the practice in achieving its strategic goals. Start on your path to strategic success by keeping these essentials in mind while going through the strategic planning process.

  1. Begin the strategic planning process by making sure the plan encompasses what the practice is all about and what it represents to the community. This means the goals and the decisions outlined in the strategic plan must be aligned with the practice’s mission and vision.  It is important to articulate the significance of this from the onset and revisit it as you go through the many processes of strategic brainstorming, goal-setting and formulating the written plan. This helps ensure that the decisions and actions identified in the strategic plan are authentic to your very purpose in being a medical practice.
  2. Next, identify what differentiates your practice from its competition. It is critical to examine market data to understand external factors that may impact the practice now and in the future. It is also critical to take an objective look at the practices strengths and weaknesses, exploring what opportunities this presents and what obstacles must be overcome.  Sometimes, this is referred to as a “SWOT” analysis, for “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”  These analytical steps help the practice address issues it must contend with and make appropriate strategic decisions based on the reality of your market position.
  3. Practice-wide engagement is needed to succeed with implementing a strategic plan.  This means communicating your strategic goals and determining everyone’s responsibility in achieving those goals.  Once the strategic plan is approved, invest time in preparing to share the information with everyone at the practice – from the data-entry clerk to the billing department, and from the clinical support staff to and the providers that care for patients. Everyone has a role in executing the strategic plan. You need the entire team’s support and commitment.
  4. Finally, the strategic plan should continually transform the practice. It is a living document that changes with time.  It must drive changes and shift behaviors. Transforming the practice over time includes a process of exploring strategic choices and making essential decisions that contribute to achieving your strategic goals.   This requires open on-going and honest discussions and monitoring progress along the way. Schedule periodic meetings where everyone participates and visibly support and track decisions that are made.  Use this communication to be sure that, as your practice adapts, you’re always staying true to your mission.

By respecting these important strategic planning process elements you can build a solid strategic plan that drives your future, is prepared to deal with the unexpected changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act, and will ready your practice to move beyond surviving to a thriving organization.

Ready to get started on your strategic plan?  Attend “The Secrets to Strategic Planning,” a webinar for physicians hosted by Greenbranch Publishing on May 8th.  More information on this webinar, including registration, can be found here.

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