An Introduction to Healthcare Strategic Planning

Strategic growth planning is a useful process for guiding the future of all types of organizations, especially hospitals and healthcare systems. If your hospital is seeking to grow but doesn't have a strategic plan in place, it’s time to start doing the valuable work necessary to create one.

What is Healthcare Strategic Growth Plan?

  • A proposal for how to reach a desired growth goal.
  • It identifies growth priorities specific to the
  • It outlines a vision for what the organization wishes to achieve in the future.
  • Lastly, it establishes a road map of specific actions required to transform the organization’s current situation into the desired future one.

It is important for a strategic growth plan to have data as its foundation. If growth is the objective, but on-the-ground intelligence about the hospital, healthcare system, patient market, population, or service area are not being utilized, then the plan is just a stab in the dark that likely won’t produce the desired outcomes.


How to Make the Right Data-Driven Decisions

Over the years, as we've worked alongside customers, we've recognized a pattern; top-performing healthcare companies are not data-driven. They certainly utilize data analytics—data is used to influence and guide decisions—but it doesn't dominate their time and attention. These top performing companies are successful because they've found ways to automate their data processes, so they can be decision-driven; spending their resources on high-value activities. Read more about how to embrace a decision-driven mindset in our DIKW pyramid white paper.


8 Steps to Successful Planning

Healthcare professionals face a range of challenges each day. In order to be strategic, it’s crucial for healthcare leaders to take a step back from daily duties to examine the state of the organization and thoughtfully create a data-driven, strategic growth plan. Below are eight steps that can serve as a road map to successful planning.


Step 1: Update the Organization's Mission, Vision, and Values So They Align with Your Strategic Growth Goals

mission is a statement that defines the final aim of the organization. A vision is an inspirational statement that presents what the organization will look like after the strategic plan has been implemented. An organization’s values are a set of rules and cultural principles that give the organization character and soul.

If these already exist for your organization, review them thoughtfully and ensure they align with your growth goals.

If they’re constructed in a way that could be inhibitive to growth, consider rewriting them to be more conducive to a growth mindset.



Step 2: Conduct a Business and Operational Analysis

It is essential that your organization examine internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats, and consider how each is helping or hindering system growth. This is typically done by conducting a SWOT Analysis.

At this stage, it’s helpful to engage stakeholders from across the organization. Including their perspectives will not only improve the plan, but it will also help gain buy-in early in the growth planning process.


Step 3: Develop Strategic Options

At this stage, it’s important to review all possible strategies to help you achieve your strategic growth goals. Start by brainstorming a list of options.

Does growth mean:

  • Expanding a particular service line?
  • Breaking into a new demographic?
  • Marketing directly to consumers?
  • Or does growth require a merger with, or acquisition of, other healthcare organizations?

After all of the options have been discussed, select a few that best correlate with your organization's goals. Evaluating the current state of your organization, your market, competitors, and industry trends will help your organization select feasible objectives in Step 4.


Step 4: Select Strategic Growth Objectives

To be most effective, your growth objectives should follow the SMART protocol. Each objective must be SpecificMeasurable (based on data), AchievableRealistic, and Time-bound.

  • Start by narrowing the list of strategies brainstormed in Step 3 to a shorter, more focused list of the most pressing strategic growth objectives.
  • Next, establish guidelines for how you will measure when you have successfully reached each objective.
  • Lastly, identify a timeline for when each objective should be achieved.

Once this step is complete, your organization has successfully created a strategic growth plan!


Step 5: Develop the Strategy Execution Plan

At this point, your strategic growth planning team must determine the most effective way to execute the strategic growth plan. The plan needs ownership at both the executive level and the staff level.

Identify champions of the strategic growth plan at all levels of the organization and have them define what will motivate their teams to complete each objective. 

Include all verticals of your organization in this process; marketing, strategy, planning, and business development teams should all understand and support the strategic plan.

There are opportunities all across the organization for strategic growth—make sure each team is aligned in their goals and doing their part to execute the plan.

Another consideration—are you equipped with the resources needed to accomplish your growth goals? Should an outside partner with data-driven expertise, such as Syntellis, be hired? If your internal team is not equipped or to handle specific initiatives, an outside partner should be a part of your strategic growth plan execution.

Syntellis offers a diverse team of experts with specialized skills in GIS mapping, health analysis, and data handling, and is a compliment or extension to any hospital planning team.


Step 6: Perform Resource Allocations

Executing a strategic growth plan requires funding, staffing, and other resources to be allocated to each of your strategic growth objectives. If the resources don’t exist, consider revising the timeline for that objective or eliminating it entirely.

Alternatively, make the creation of those resources a part of the strategic growth plan. This might include adding external partners to help in areas such as data analytics, legal considerations, marketing, or financial matters.


Step 7: Arrange for Ongoing Plan Revisions

Once you’ve written a plan, achieved buy-in throughout the organization, and allocated resources, your organization is ready to execute your strategic growth plan!

But before you consider your job done, remember that in today’s healthcare space, a strategic plan should never be considered a static document

Patient needs are continually evolving thanks to our fast-paced lifestyle and the unprecedented number of choices of providers and care options. Additionally, healthcare providers have access to nearly real-time patient data and can understand their patient population in a way that has rarely been possible in the past. 

Embracing a nimble, flexible approach to planning is key. An iterative planning process allows for adaptation and ensures that your plans stay current and fresh. It includes ongoing results tracking so that teams can make changes as needed based on insights and findings. With this approach, the growth plan is flexible and ever-changing. It course corrects in response to data insights, which are now available more frequently than ever before.


Step 8: Periodically Track Progress and Measure Success

Periodic and ongoing review go hand in hand with an iterative growth planning process. Regular reporting from all parties involved is a must—from the person responsible for each growth objective to the team in charge of implementing the plan.

When deviations are identified, take action to get the plan back on track. If challenges are identified, it may be necessary to change the direction of one or more of the strategic growth objectives.


The Takeaway

Creating a solid, measurable plan is crucial for a healthcare organization looking to grow. 

It takes a strong commitment to create and execute a plan. In the end, the growth and unity experienced will be worth the effort put in by everyone involved.