As the national healthcare landscape becomes more unclear, the reality of increasing expenses and declining reimbursements are now exacerbated by COVID-19. Add to that, falling patient volumes due to social distancing, and many healthcare practices are struggling.
Unfortunately, strategic planning has often had to take a backseat for many practices as they navigate the more pressing concerns of ever-shifting regulations and the need for cost containment. Many healthcare organizations find themselves in crisis management mode just keeping patient volumes at a level that sustains the practice. While crisis management is necessary, it’s critical not to let your long term strategy die on the vine.
The winning move is to act tactically but think strategically. While you’re making day-to-day decisions for your practice, take the time to create, finish or even amend your roadmap. Don’t let all the hard work you did at a retreat or board meeting sit on the shelf and collect dust. Brainstorm ideas that add value to your practice, and always remember that it’s never strategy or tactics; it’s both! This is illustrated by one of my favorite quotes from Sun Tzu, a Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher:
“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.”
from Leadership Lessons from Sun Tzu and The Art of War, Matt Harrison
Taking that first step in strategic planning is hard, no doubt. But crisis or otherwise, you’re the leader, and it’s your responsibility to hold the rudder and wield the roadmap that will be your guide. Before you get going on your strategy, here are three things that will help you prepare.
Get Out of Your Head
While experts often define the process of developing a strategy from a functional standpoint, it’s important not to become mentally handcuffed by the process. Resist the urge to start checking boxes. New techniques like A2 planning and LEAN thinking can be applied to save time and money. Make your strategic plan a living document that includes many new variations of your central strategy. Always pause and make sure your strategy is aligned with your vision and values.
Get In to Innovation
Advances in innovation are not going away, so go ahead and embrace them as opportunities. Make researching them part of your strategy. Keep your eye on new treatments and technology solutions. These might include patient engagement apps, stem cell therapy, molecular testing and DNA sequencing for urinary tract infections, digital pathology using artificial intelligence to help identify cancer, hyper-specialty surgical centers for joint replacement—just to name a few! You will find that many of the in-house services you provide may be more efficient and less expensive once connected with the right business partner.
Get in Front of Technology
Embrace technology, or you’ll find yourself behind your competition in short order. Cloud-based platforms, apps and web-based APIs for your EMR are cost-effective, efficient and (most importantly) consumer-driven strategies that create a better digital experience for patients who want to receive medical care from the convenience of their living room.
At Healthwise Management, we have seen some great strategies—based on a shared mission, vision and values—come to fruition. Whether you are just starting to create your strategy or are well down the path and need a tune-up, partnering with Healthwise will elevate the clinical, cultural and operational aspects of your strategic plan. We’re here to help. Let’s talk.