As you are well aware, physicians and their practices face new and complex challenges. Among these are the repercussions from: the emphasis on reducing the cost of health care while increasing access to care, the downward pressure on fees by third party payors, the increased competition among physicians, and the movement toward strategic alliances. And those are but a few. Where practicing quality medicine once assured a practice's success, it longer does. Building, or even just maintaining, a medical practice has become more a function of the practice's business acumen then its resident medical skills. This trend can only be seen as likely to continue, and, in that they must now more than ever view themselves as a business, a practice and its managers can only be seen as wise to look to the techniques, processes, and systems that have been developed and refined by the business community at large for some time.
Formal strategic planning, by its very definition, has been one of the critical processes employed by businesses both large and small to deal with the issues of tomorrow. Changes typically occur much too quickly to allow long-term survival if you are only being reactive. By contrast, strategic planning provides a proactive, orderly, systematic review of the organization and the environment within which it is - and anticipates - operating. It involves the development of best projections of how that environment is likely to change, the identification of what external factors are most likely to drive the change, and an assessment of the conditions within the organization that may impact its ability to adapt to the change.
In the end, it is identifying goals and objectives for the practice and the physicians; working out a "game plan" to accomplish those goals and objectives, and insuring that mechanisms are in place for the measurement of progress. In short, the Strategic Planning Process is:
- An integrated set of activities or actions aimed at developing sustainable, competitive advantages for the medical practice.
- The orderly review of the organization in the context of the environment in which it exists, developing its best projections of how that environment will likely change,
and working out a game plan for how to accomplish the goals and objectives defined by the strategic assessment.
- When achievements are the result of carefully developed plans.
- A commitment of financial and human resources.
Why Strategic Planning Does Not Occur Enough
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Reed Tinsley, CPA, is a Houston-based CPA, Certified Valuation Analyst, and healthcare consultant. He works closely with physicians, medical groups, and other healthcare entities with managed care contracting issues, operational and financial management, strategic planning, and growth strategies. His entire practice is concentrated in the health care industry.
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