Features by Alan M. Zuckerman, FACHE, FAAHC and Donna K. Sollenberger
In its simplest form, strategic planning identifies a desired future and sets out clear guidelines for getting there. Hospitals have been engaged in strategic planning since the late 1970s. However, for many, these plans have either not reached the implementation stage or have not been successful. So what is the state of the art in healthcare now, what are some of healthcare’s best practices, and what, if anything, can we learn from other industries?
For answers to these questions, Frontiers invited Alan Zuckerman, a consultant and author on strategic planning, and Donna Sollenberger, CEO and president of a healthcare institution, to provide us with some current research and personal experience and insights. In addition, we asked two senior vice presidents in healthcare institutions and two academics to join in the discussion.
Alan Zuckerman, FACHE, FAAHC (president of Health Strategies & Solutions), begins the discussion by presenting the findings of a survey he completed in conjunction with AHA’s Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development to determine the current status of strategic planning in healthcare organizations and to identify best practices both within and outside of healthcare. The results suggest that strategic planning in healthcare has not evolved to the more advanced states that exist outside of healthcare. He describes ten best practices in healthcare strategic planning and five more advanced characteristics associated with pathbreaking companies outside of healthcare.
Donna Sollenberger (president and CEO of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics) provides us with a concrete example of a sophisticated strategic planning process and its impact on the hospital. She walks us through the plan’s process and implementation, which helped turn a failing medical center around. The plan, which showed spectacular results within five years, had a positive impact on patient satisfaction, employee retention, financial performance, operating efficiency, and clinical effectiveness, quality, and safety.
The three commentaries explore the issues raised in the above articles.Healthcare organizations exist in a volatile market, where change is a constant. Without a viable planning process that guides and motivates the organization to reach its goals, an organization has little chance of surviving. We all agree on that. The question is, how successful are our planning processes? Can we do better? Is there a need to do better? The discussion in this issue of Frontiers provides some insight into these questions. We’d love to hear your thoughts. If you would like to add to the discussion, please send your comments to the editor.
Audrey Kaufman, Editor