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Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is a process that outlines the direction of an organization. It identifies how an organization will allocate their resources to achieve a desired future state while positioning itself to be competitive within the industry. Through this process, areas of excellence and improvement are substantiated, and organizational goals are aligned to ensure that all entities are moving in the same direction.

Goals, outcomes and benefits of strategic planning include the following:

The process of strategic planning itself seeks to answer four fundamental questions:

Where is the organization today.

Is the organization getting there?

These questions can be answered for the whole organization, individual departments, or even certain service lines. Developing a plan that answers these questions is a multi-step process consisting of:

Where should the organization be in the future? AND How should the organization get there?

Leadership - At its core, strategic planning is a leadership function that benefits anyone in a leadership position. A strategic plan is more likely to succeed if the impetus for strategic planning comes from the top and the organization’s leader is prepared to visibly and consistently commit the organization to a strategic process.

Organizational Integration - To be effective, strategy cannot stand alone or apart from operations. If strategy defines the desired future states and the means to that end, “operations” defines, allocates, and manages the necessary resources. Key areas include:

Group on Institutional Planning (GIP) Toolkit (PDF)

Creating Strategic Plans

Step 1: initial planning (approval, scope, timeframe, stakeholders, planning team).

The goals of the initial planning phase are to: 1) clarify the scope of the strategic plan; 2) organize the planning process; and 3) identify stakeholders and possibly a list of steering committee members to be involved with the development and implementation of the plan.

Step 2: Environmental Assessment

The objective of the environmental assessment phase is to define and collect the necessary data to understand the service’s current state. Some questions an environmental assessment hopes to answer include:

This is accomplished through interviews, data analysis, focus groups, surveys, internal and/or external benchmarking, and sometimes an innovation assessment. The end result of this phase should be a summary document that provides an accurate representation of the present environment while identifying both issues and opportunities. Assistance of a business manager is helpful in identifying data and doing the analyses.

Step 3: Mission, Vision, Goal and Strategy Formation

The purpose of this step is to agree on your current mission, create a future vision for the organization/service and generate short-term goals and detailed strategies towards reaching this desired state. The formation of the mission, vision and accompanying goals is accomplished through brainstorming and discussions with senior leadership/stakeholders while the formation of strategies is best achieved by smaller workgroups comprised of those that will be directly involved in implementation. In the last part of this phase, the direction and strategies are used to generate volume projections and a pro forma validating the expected successes of plan implementation.

Step 4: Final Plan Development and Approval/Endorsement

The goal of this step is to: 1) compile the necessary documents for senior leadership and key stakeholders in the organization/service; and 2) secure plan confirmation/approval. The purpose is to provide senior leadership/key stakeholders with the information needed to make decisions regarding the organization/service. In addition, senior management will want to understand how the organization/service will drive implementation (i.e., how the plan will be implemented). An implementation plan and scorecard are useful tools to facilitate this discussion.

Links/Resource Suggestions:

Implementing Strategic Plans

The strategic plan should be a living document that helps drive decision making for leaders and teams. It should be reviewed periodically to assess progress.

Step 1: Develop an Implementation Plan

Once you know what you want to achieve and how, develop an implementation plan that highlights strategy leaders, timeline (including interdependencies) and resources needed (both existing and incremental). This not only helps the department organize around their plan but provide direction for enabling business entities such as advancement, space planning, communications, and government affairs.

Step 2: Scorecard Development and On-Going Review

Prior to the completion of the plan, determine how frequently the plan will be re-evaluated and how often updates will be given to senior leadership/key stakeholders. Develop a scorecard that compares actual performance to targets for key plan metrics.

To ensure that the plan is moving forward, periodic meetings with individuals denoted in the implementation plan may be needed to discuss progress and any factors that mitigate the plan’s success. Adjustments may be needed to the planned timeline, or to strategies and resources.

Step 3: Communications Plan

Once your plan is complete and approved by senior leadership, it is important to communicate it to key stakeholders including faculty and staff, boards, alumni, philanthropists/foundations, politicians and other influencers. Additionally, work with your communication’s team to ensure regular communications tie to the strategic plan progress whenever possible. Encourage your leader to mention their strategic plan in regular interactions and how the plan impacts his/her decision making and prioritization.

Use of Data and Scorecards in Strategic Plans

It is important to understand if your actions are creating the progress desired. Therefore, it is important to develop metrics to track your success and make changes to the plan if needed. Leadership and key stakeholders will also want to understand that goals are being achieved.

Links/Resources Suggestions:

Recommended Strategic Planning Reading

Culture change.

AAMC President's Address 2007: " Culture and the Courage to Change " (PDF). Former AAMC President Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., delivered the following address at the association's 118th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on November 4, 2007

Journal Articles

Other Publications

Space Planning and Management in Academic Medical Centers

Strategic Planning Presentations

Institutional Strategic Plans

Strategic Planning Career Development

Planners are masters of process. Planners must skillfully employ a variety of techniques to shepherd participants through the steps of visioning, environmental assessment, development of goals, objectives and strategies, and tactical planning for implementation. The skills involved are both substantive and political.

Planners must be generalists with the ability to master new subject areas quickly. In one instance, the planner may be called on to facilitate planning for managed care networks, and in the next, be called on to plan for a transgenic animal program. The potential topical areas are nearly limitless, and the planner must be comfortable working with technical material that may be unfamiliar.

The roles that planners are called on to play are even more varied than the many different organizations that make up academic medicine. The senior planning position in a large organization, such as an academic medical center, would include all of the elements listed below. Senior planners in smaller organizations, or specialists within a planning group, may have responsibilities requiring some of these abilities, but not all of them.

Competencies are listed below:

GIP Strategic Planning and Management Subcommittee

Learn more about the GIP Strategic Planning and Management Subcommittee . Learn more about the subcommittee's recent hot topic discussions .

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Strategic Planning: Why It Makes a Difference, and How to Do It

Short abstract.

Take action before problems reach crisis level. Strategic planning provides the structure to make day-to-day decisions that follow a larger vision, creates a direction for your practice, and maximizes your options for influencing your environment.

In oncology practice, where dramatic changes in reimbursement, technology, and the marketplace are just a few of the driving forces, “the future,” as Yogi Berra once said, “ain't what it used to be.” You may not be able to control the future, but strategic planning can create a direction for your practice and maximize your options for influencing your environment. Without it, your group will likely take action only to address immediate problems—a kind of crisis management approach. Strategic planning gives a practice the structure to make day-to-day decisions that follow a larger vision. This article presents the principles of strategic planning and outlines processes that your practice can adapt for short- or long-term planning. Strategic decision making is needed now more than ever for success in oncology practice.

A strategic plan is a tool that moves your practice toward a goal you have set. However, the definition of a strategic plan differs among different people, according to management consultant Teri Guidi, MBA. Guidi, chief executive officer of Oncology Management Consulting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, points out that although there is “no wrong idea” of what a strategic plan encompasses, people often do have misconceptions about it. “Some expect a strategic plan to be precise—it's not. Some think that it will take you forward forever—it won't. The biggest mistake people make is already having the end result in mind when they start.”

Of all the compelling reasons for your group to engage in strategic planning, perhaps the most critical is the speed at which forces in your environment are changing. “Physicians who try to keep practicing as they have in the last five years will be at a disadvantage,” says Dawn Holcombe, MBA, president of DGH Consulting in South Windsor, Connecticut. “The world swirling around oncologists is changing, and things they may not even know about will affect their practice.”

Engaging in the process of strategic planning has benefits in addition to the plan that comes out of it. For starters, having everyone in the same room fosters collegiality and creates a milieu in which you can focus on the direction of your practice, away from patient care and other duties. In addition, the process promotes the open and creative exchange of ideas, including putting disagreements on the table and working out effective solutions.

Short- and Long-Term Planning

Establishing the direction of your practice and identifying overarching goals provide the foundation for strategic planning, whether short or long term. In the field of health care today, a long-term plan will likely address no more than the next 3 years. After the strategic course is determined in the initial planning session, the group should meet at least annually. During these sessions, the partners should revisit the practice goals, update the environmental assessment with new data, and identify strategies needed to address issues that will arise within the next 12 months. For example, as the retirement of one or more partners approaches, a succession plan may need to be developed (as described in related article on page 136). Meanwhile, growth in patient volume may call for recruitment strategies for both physicians and midlevel providers.

Should You Use a Consultant?

Although use of an outside facilitator entails expense, turning to a strategic planning professional has a number of advantages that can contribute greatly to success, especially if you are undertaking strategic planning for the first time. A professional has done this before—many times—and thus can direct the process efficiently. He or she knows how to collect and analyze diverse information—opinions, practice data, and market reports, for example—and present it in a concise way, thereby saving you and your administrator many hours of work. As a moderator, a consultant knows how to keep a group moving forward, prevent it from getting bogged down in side issues, and objectively help participants resolve disagreements and develop effective solutions.

Perhaps the biggest value added by a consultant is guidance in assessing your environment. A well-qualified strategic planning consultant should have a thorough and current knowledge of national trends in medicine as well as detailed knowledge about oncology practice. Regarding your community, although your group naturally knows the local marketplace well, an outsider can provide a fresh and objective perspective; in fact, the familiarity of physicians with the local scene may create blind spots. Similarly, in assessing the strengths and limitations of a group, a consultant can contribute objectivity and should be able to provide national benchmarks for objective comparison.

In choosing a consultant, look for an individual or firm that will contribute valuable knowledge about national reimbursement, patient care, and business initiatives and trends affecting oncology practice. Many management consultant firms offer strategic planning services, but you will be best served by a consultant who has worked with physician practices and has significant recent experience with oncology practice.

Scheduling a Strategic Planning Session: Who, When, and Where

Just as there is no one way to define strategic planning, there is no single way of doing it. Examples and guidelines are presented here that you may draw on to implement a process that makes sense for your practice.

The decision makers of the practice should be the ones who conduct strategic planning. If your practice is so large that including all partners could make a meeting unwieldy, it might make sense to have a smaller group, such as the executive board, do the planning. In addition to shareholders, you may want physician associates and key managers to participate. Inclusion of individuals who are not partners, at least for some parts of the meeting, may also have advantages. This can foster buy-in to the strategic direction, thereby contributing to the success of the resulting action plan. The oncology group at the Toledo Clinic, a large multispecialty center in Toledo, Ohio, found it beneficial to include the executive director of the clinic. By participating, the director gained valuable insight into the special administrative and practice needs of oncology.

Setting aside at least one day for strategic planning is recommended, especially if this is the first time your group has undertaken it. Distribute an agenda ahead of time, and use a moderator to keep the meeting on track. The location should be comfortable and private. The participants must be able to focus solely on strategic planning, without interruption, so arrange to have patient-related calls covered. Members of the Toledo Clinic used a consultant to guide them through strategic planning, and the consultant facilitated a one-day retreat at a country club. The meeting began around 9 am , after physician rounds, and the nurse practitioners of the group provided patient coverage. Other oncology groups may have conference space available in their office. A half-day meeting can be adequate for groups that have been doing strategic planning for many years.

Starting Point: Mission and Values

Developing a mission statement for your practice—a statement of its basic purpose—is the first step of strategic planning and provides the foundation for the entire process. You may think that putting your mission in writing is a bureaucratic waste of time, but in fact, determining how to articulate your mission is a productive experience. It sets the stage for later prioritization, and the process compels the shareholders to reflect on and express the purpose of the practice. Is providing high-quality care to patients with cancer your entire mission? What about research? Does your practice have a mission to serve the community through education? Answering questions such as these helps spell out the core mission of the group.

Once you succinctly define the mission of your organization, you should develop value statements expressing your core beliefs regarding issues such as patient care, interaction with the community, and how members of the practice work together. In the framework of a traditional strategic plan, the mission statement is concisely expressed in not more than one or two sentences, with value statements articulated separately. However, some organizations combine the mission and values into a narrative of one or more paragraphs. The format used is inconsequential; most important is that your group express the enduring elements of your practice, which will form the foundation on which the practice direction and strategies are expounded.

For a practice that is hospital based or part of a larger organization, the mission and values of the group should be consistent with those of the larger organization. Your group may want to state its own distinct mission or simply adopt that of the larger organization, as did the group of nine oncologists affiliated with the Toledo Clinic. “In practices like ours, which are within a larger organization, it's important to support the larger organization's mission,” says Peggy Barton, group manager. “It could lead to confusion if the broad organization and the practice are going in different directions.”

Vision: Where Do You Want to Go?

With the mission and values defined, the next step for the group is determining what kind of practice you want in the future. Again, the words of Yogi Berra apply: “If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else.” A vision statement—whether just a few words or a longer document—creates the desired image of the future state of your practice. Do you want to be recognized for treatment of a certain type of cancer? Is your vision to be the leader in clinical research in your state? Do you want to grow larger and have a network of practice sites? The vision of the group must complement your practice environment, so you may find that your review of internal and external information (described in SWOT Analysis) leads you to revise your vision statement to some extent as you continue planning strategically.

The vision statement for your group should be painted in broad strokes, not in detail, and it should represent the end point, not the strategy for achieving it. For example, your vision may be to provide multidisciplinary services to your community, but your vision statement would not include a specific strategy, such as merging with a certain radiology group or recruiting two physicians. When developing a vision statement, an atmosphere of openness should prevail to encourage creativity and thinking beyond current boundaries.

As in all stages of strategic planning, disagreements may surface. “Different opinions about the direction of a practice are very healthy,” says Guidi. “The ideas might be in conflict, but getting them out on the table helps [you] to see what is really important.”

Barton agrees. “One purpose of the strategic planning meeting was to get everyone in the room at the same time to identify where we agree and disagree and to reach compromise. The process encouraged input from everyone, and the group made some important decisions that have helped them over the past year.”

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis—an assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your practice—is a staple of strategic planning. This analysis uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative information, most of which should be gathered and analyzed before the planning meeting. The process for gathering information and performing a SWOT analysis varies greatly, and there is no single correct method. The size of the group, the frequency of strategic planning meetings, and how fast changes are taking place both nationally and locally are all significant factors affecting the process.

Internal Assessment: Strengths and Weaknesses

In identifying internal strengths and weaknesses, include hard data such as the number of new consults, cost of drugs per full-time-equivalent physician, and financial reports. It is useful to benchmark aspects of the quality and efficiency of the practice against data on other oncology practices (Sources for Benchmarking Data provides references for locating this information).

If possible, investigate the perceptions of individuals outside the practice—patients, hospital administrators, and referring physicians, for example. A consultant naturally has an advantage in gathering candid assessments from such individuals, unless an anonymous survey is used. How others view the practice can be critical to performing an accurate SWOT analysis, as demonstrated in an experience reported by consultant Guidi. In one practice that had rather long wait times, the physicians believed that the patients did not mind, because “they know that when it's their turn, they'll get just as much attention as the patient before.” But the patients interviewed by Guidi cited long wait times as a top complaint and said they would mention it to others considering the practice for treatment.

Gather qualitative information and opinions from physicians and staff. What do they see as the top issues facing the practice, and what do they consider to be the strengths and weaknesses of the practice? These perspectives can be provided during the meeting, but it is useful to collect information ahead of time, so a larger group can be polled, and anonymity can be assured. Holcombe distributes a questionnaire to solicit information from each physician and also interviews key individuals. Her summary is then reviewed and discussed during the strategic planning retreat.

Sources for Benchmarking Data

Oncology Associates in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, uses its face-to-face planning meeting to share personal perspectives about the practice. The group is small—currently five oncologists—and has been doing strategic planning for many years. SWOT data for analysis is gathered ahead of time, but at the beginning of the meeting, each physician discusses how he feels about his own practice, including his workload, his satisfaction with the schedule, and other aspects of practice. “With everyone in the room, they all hear each other's perspective, which helps later on when we are talking about the practice as a whole and making decisions about issues such as expanding services or recruiting a new provider,” says Carole Dzingle, practice manager.

A third method is used at the Mark H. Zangmeister Center in Columbus, Ohio. The executive board of the 16-oncologist practice holds an annual strategic planning session. Glenn Balasky, executive director, obtains input from six or seven staff managers and works with the managing partner to complete a SWOT analysis that is presented at the meeting.

External Assessment: Opportunities and Threats

Data about the marketplace of the practice, such as demographics, economic trends, referral patterns, and competition, should be analyzed in light of whether they represent threats or opportunities. In addition to the local picture, the broader environment, including the regional health care system and approaching changes in reimbursement and regulation, should also be assessed. Although the physicians and staff in some groups stay abreast of local, regional, and national trends, a consultant knowledgeable about oncology market forces is often needed to provide an analysis of the environment. The Toledo Clinic found the report on the national picture prepared by the consultant significantly helpful.

Some groups work to keep up with trends on their own through active involvement in state and national oncology societies. The physicians of Oncology Associates are active in ASCO as well as in the Iowa Oncology Society, and the staff managers are involved with organizations such as the Association of Community Cancer Centers and the Medical Group Management Association. Physicians and staff leaders at the Zangmeister Center are involved with the Community Oncology Alliance and other oncology organizations at both national and state levels, and each staff manager actively participates in a professional organization. Monitoring the environment takes energy and commitment, but it produces advantages, according to Balasky. “It pays off in the raw market intelligence we get, and we stay in touch continually rather than having a once-a-year report.”

Developing Strategies

Once a clear picture of the practice and its environment has been established, the group should develop strategic options for moving the practice from its current status toward the desired future position. Be alert to the pitfalls of discussing operational issues and trying to decide on tactics instead of identifying strategies. For example, a strategic decision may be to go forward with implementing an electronic medical record system, but the strategic planning meeting is not the place to discuss available systems, preferred data fields, or training required. Managing these kinds of details will be the responsibility of individuals assigned in the action plan.

In some cases, the SWOT analysis can reveal weaknesses that call for implementing one or more strategic priorities before pursuing others. Practices sometimes realize they need to create the infrastructure necessary to reach their goals. For example, they may not have systems in place to provide data that will be needed to remain competitive.

In other cases, the group may come up with many strategies that need to be prioritized during the meeting or at a subsequent meeting. To narrow down big lists, Guidi describes two approaches that work well when groups meet more than once. One mechanism she uses is to put all the strategies in writing after the first meeting; she then asks individuals via e-mail to score the importance, difficulty, and cost of each strategy on a scale of one to five. In another approach, after one or two brainstorming sessions, Guidi boils down the information to three or four overarching goals for additional discussion by the group. Guidi finds that several short strategic planning sessions are often more productive than is a full- or half-day retreat, and in the end, the shorter sessions call for about the same total hours of physician time.

More Information About Strategic Planning

Action Plan

The outcome of developing strategies should be the prioritization of a few (ie, two to five) achievable strategies and creation of related action plans. Many strategic plans have faltered or failed because they were too ambitious or too complex. Do not try to take advantage of every opportunity or address every limitation identified in your SWOT analysis. Some goals may be important but can be scheduled for implementation in a year or two. By having an annual strategic planning meeting to update your plan, these goals will stay in sight and can be addressed successfully.

Create an action plan to address each strategic priority within the next 12 months. Spell out steps to be taken, who will have the lead responsibility, and the milestones that will show progress. For example, a strategy of adding midlevel providers might have a work plan with dates and assignments for finalizing a position description, creating a compensation package, recruiting, hiring, and conducting orientation. A strategy of building a new facility or merging with another practice will ultimately involve complex actions, but initially, the work plan might specify only the steps involved in finding and retaining a consultant to present a business plan by a certain date. Make sure the action plan is in a format that can and will be used by those with responsibility for implementation.

Communicate the strategic goals and action plan to all clinical and administrative staff. Everyone in the practice should know the goals and clearly understand his or her role in implementing strategies to achieve them. Effective communication and cultivation of a team culture are especially important if your strategic planning results in changes or begins moving the practice in a new direction.

Keep in mind that a strategic plan does not have to involve a lot of paperwork or a big report. The mission, values, and vision of the practice should be documented, and the group should revisit them at the beginning of subsequent strategic planning meetings to validate them or make revisions if appropriate. A summary of the SWOT analysis should be included, but this may be brief, with the data that went into it provided as appendices or even stored elsewhere while remaining easily available for updating. The action plan must be available for tracking progress. Your strategic plan must be a living document—a roadmap that guides what happens in your practice on a day-to-day basis—not a report that sits on a shelf.

what is strategic planning for hospitals stand

Understanding Strategic Planning in Healthcare Organizations

October 29, 2021

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Master of Health Administration

what is strategic planning for hospitals stand

Strategic planning in health care organizations involves outlining the actionable steps needed to reach specific goals. While there are different strategy types and levels, the purpose of all strategies is to bring an organization’s actions into alignment with its stated mission or values. Today, health care providers require more patient-centric, value-based approaches, whereas many of their current systems follow older, more traditional strategy models, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

Increasingly, organizations are having to recalibrate their health care strategies to suit current market trends and changing approaches to patient care. Any professional looking to better understand the inner workings of health care institutions needs to know the different types of strategies used in health care, along with their importance for an organization’s success.

The Importance of Strategic Planning

As noted in a report published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, “You may not be able to control the future, but strategic planning can create a direction for your practice and maximize your options for influencing your environment.” Strategic planning in health care organizations entails taking proactive steps toward a goal, not just addressing immediate problems as they arise. Health care strategy is crucial to an organization’s future success by providing the framework for making day-to-day choices in alignment with its objectives.

Levels of Health Care Strategy

The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) explains that health care strategies vary in type (prospective or emergent) and organizational level (corporate, business, or functional).

Strategy Types

No matter their size or mission, most organizations employ some form of strategy to make progress towards their long-term goals. There are two main strategy types that organizations employ: prospective and emergent.

Prospective Strategy

The majority of large health care organizations develop thorough plans to prepare for future issues that may affect their facilities and the health care field at large. These providers must focus on creating strategies that anticipate potential needs for additional resources, such as capital and personnel. This type of long-term planning is known as prospective strategy. Prospective strategies should also allow for flexibility in case unforeseen developments occur in the health care sector. For example, if providers develop a prospective strategy based on an expected nursing shortage in the years ahead, and that shortage is less severe than anticipated, a flexible strategy would include a plan for reallocating resources to other areas.

Emergent Strategy

Emergent strategies involve a retrospective analysis of events to make better decisions going forward. Developments such as the implementation of new health care policy, swings in prescription drug prices, and outbreaks of epidemic diseases can cause health care market fluctuations that require providers to continually experiment and adapt. Organizations that rely on emergent strategies must be extremely flexible to be able to re-evaluate internal strategies and quickly recalibrate to better suit current market trends. Many providers analyze competitors’ strategies and implement tactics that seem to be working for other leaders in the field.

Strategy Levels within Organizations

In addition to prospective and emergent strategy approaches, there are also different strategy levels within organizations. Organizational strategies are often subdivided into corporate, business, and functional levels.

Corporate-Level Strategy

This level of strategy often involves a board of directors, executive leaders, and stakeholders. As the top tier of the decision-making process, the corporate level oversees strategy for the entire organization, with a focus on defining mission and big-picture goals, such as fund allocation and business deals.

Business-Level Strategy

This strategy level prioritizes specific product lines. Business-level strategy focuses on projects in development, and managers have the authority to develop strategies based on the needs of their directives. Managers translate the directions and intent of those at the corporate level into actionable strategies for individual projects and employees.

Functional-Level Strategy

The third tier in an organization’s strategic approach is the functional level, which supports the corporate and business levels. The focus at this level is tied to the end products or services the company provides. Functional-level strategy integrates research, marketing, production, and distribution to better connect products and services with the company’s client base.

Managers involved in developing strategies at every level must consider how their plans will affect individuals throughout the organization. For example, a strategy aimed at increasing health care services during a facility’s expansion should consider the additional hours current staff members may need to work before new professionals can be hired. Similarly, if administrators plan to divert more resources to a specific department in a health care facility, the strategy needs to account for how decreases in resources will impact other departments. Ideally, information should cascade from corporate down to the functional level, with the final product meeting all goals and driving business success.

Developing Strategies with Advanced Education

Strategic planning in health care organizations helps medical institutions operate successfully with respect to business objectives and optimal standards of patient care. Professionals looking to gain a better understanding of health care strategies to help analyze, create, and implement them may need advanced education beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Heath care administrators or executives must have a comprehensive understanding of health care stratagems to effectively manage an entire facility, clinic, or department. A graduate degree, such as Regis College’s Master of Science in Health Administration, will help professionals add new skills into their already-existing foundation of experience, which can enable them to integrate strategy systems in the workplace.

Strategy Implementation and Career Growth

Earning a Master of Science in Health Administration can enhance a professional’s working knowledge of health care systems, and it may also aid in career advancement. Medical facilities often seek out candidates with master’s degrees, as that level of education signifies that the candidate possesses advanced knowledge and applied experience.

Demand for strategic leadership roles is also on the rise. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects health care administrator jobs to grow by 20 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than average. That equates to an additional 72,100 open positions.

A Master of Science in Health Administration may be the perfect fit for professionals looking to elevate their understanding of health care system strategies while also expanding their career opportunities.

Graduates of Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration program are equipped with the skills to become successful leaders in a variety of health professions. Find more details about courses and future career options on Regis’ MHA program website .

Recommended Readings :

What Is the Importance of Communication in Health Care?

How to Become a Hospital Administrator

How Hospital Administrators Empower their Organizations

American College of Healthcare Executives, “Strategy and Strategic Management”

Becker’s Hospital Review, “Reinventing Healthcare: 5 Strategies for Successfully Leading Change”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

Journal of Oncology Practice, “Strategic Planning: Why It Makes a Difference, and How to Do It”

Regis College, Health Administration (MS)

Let’s move forward

Wherever you are in your career and wherever you want to be, look to Regis for a direct path, no matter your education level. Fill out the form to learn more about our program options or get started on your application today.

what is strategic planning for hospitals stand

Strategic planning—a health system operational perspective

Christine Dennis

College of Business, Government and Law , Flinders University , South Australia , Australia

Abstract: Strategic planning is frequently presented to health managers and leaders as a rigorous and systematic process that enables clarification of purpose and unites staff to achieve organisational goals. However, there is little evidence that the planning process and the production of a documented plan contributes to the achievement of objectives and improved health performance. Nevertheless, in the absence of such evidence or an alternative way with which to navigate a way forward, health systems continue to put significant effort into strategic planning as a way of publicly authenticating purpose and direction.

Keywords: Strategic planning; management tools; complexity; operations

Received: 21 May 2019; Accepted: 23 October 2019; Published: 13 December 2019.

doi: 10.21037/jhmhp.2019.10.03


Strategic planning has been promoted in the management literature as an approach to improve organisational outcomes with promises of highly structured, future orientated management techniques adopted from the best run business operations ( 1 - 3 ). Strategic planning is an example of one of the many tools that the health sector has adopted from the business sector in an attempt to manage an extremely complex and financially constrained system, which often exists in conflict with political and professional pressures. The Bain Survey of Management Tools ( 4 ) demonstrated that in the ten years between 1996 and 2006 strategic planning was the most popular technique used by companies to inform business decisions, futures planning and to navigate complex and competitive marketplaces.

More recently, Bain and Company ( 5 ) wrote that ‘the six most popular tools of 2012 remained in the top six for 2014, with customer relationship management the number one, followed by benchmarking, employee engagement surveys, strategic planning, outsourcing and balanced scorecard’. Comparing the top 10 tools over a 10-year period, strategic planning, benchmarking, outsourcing, and mission and vision statements consistently remain in the top 10.

The healthcare industry is described ( 5 ) as one of the heaviest users of such management tools however, it could be argued that there is little evidence regarding the effectiveness of significant effort into business planning and futures thinking. There may be a number of reasons for this but, perhaps the health system, often described as a complex adaptive system, is approaching strategic planning too rigidly and too linear. Perhaps also, while strategic planning is an event most health executives have been involved with, the subsequent implementation of the plan has been left in limbo—referenced on occasion but for the most part—ignored.

Healthcare has long turned to other industries for management strategies that could potentially be adopted to drive operational improvement and interventions that enhance the quality and safety of care. However, prior to using such approaches, it is suggested that a necessary first step is to consider the environmental context within which the intervention will occur. Dixon-Woods ( 6 ) suggests the notion of a plug-and-play solution is consequently misguided—the features of context (clarity of vision, infrastructure, organisational systems, values, skills and so on) that made an intervention work in another setting would need to be reproduced too.

Additionally, we know that the healthcare environment is complex and dynamic; in fact the description of the health sector as a complex, uncertain and ever-changing environment has become almost a requisite prelude to studies of healthcare organisations ( 7 - 10 ). It is argued that complexity, increasing demand and financial uncertainty, challenge the ability of health care managers and leaders to deliver on strategic objectives. The same factors are also used as a defence against criticism and as such, this viewpoint is perpetuated with each generation of healthcare managers. Healthcare leaders have long described the change they witness as unprecedented. As far back as the 1960s the healthcare industry was being described as volatile and changing; the 1970s were characterised by financial uncertainty and the 1980s were rapidly changing and often threatening. In a similar fashion, the 1990s were turbulent and highly competitive, with unstable environments and organisations facing a highly unpredictable and uncertain future ( 7 , 8 ).

Over the past 10 years, the language of unprecedented change has continued however increasingly this language is targeting more specific issues including unprecedented funding pressures, unprecedented transformation, unprecedented changes in the age structure of populations, and the unprecedented challenges of climate change on health systems.

Conversely, there are also views that the healthcare system is in fact change-averse. One author ( 7 ) suggests that health care moves at glacial speed compared with most other industries, and that hospitals and physicians have organisational time clocks that are geared more to geological speed than to Internet speed. This view was also suggested by the President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dr. Andrew Pesce, in his 2009 address to the Congress on National Health Reform, where he identified this glacial speed as the real problem with healthcare reform.

The problem with such perceptions lies in the subsequent approach to planning. It can launch the investment of significant time and resources to ensure clear understanding of the environment and required strategic direction, or alternatively, perceptions of chaos and uncertainty can cause planning to be perceived as futile. Additionally, the past experiences of planning and its capacity to change systems and processes confirms the perceptions of many that plans are destined to the shelf of dreams.

These diverse viewpoints are further evidenced in the literature. Begun and Kaissi ( 2 ) suggest that strategic planning is not useful in complex adaptive systems, including healthcare delivery systems. Boyne and Gould-Williams ( 11 ) on the other hand argue that the need for planning is especially great when many circumstances in an organisation’s environment are changing rapidly.

Hammer’s thesis ( 12 ) titled ‘ Strategy Development Process and Complex Adaptive Systems ’, began with the question—does complex adaptive systems theory enlighten the strategy development process? The focus of the research was a single Case Study Organisation (CSO) being a small university in the United Kingdom (UK).

Hammer noted that in the case of the university sector, complexities are caused by the increasing interactions of UK demographic trends, international market demand and supply, increased competition from existing and new areas, changes and uncertainties in government priorities and the impact that has on funding streams, student expectations and employers’ needs. Hammer demonstrated that from a theoretical perspective, applying complex adaptive systems thinking over the strategic planning process may better inform the approach to strategic planning from an operational perspective.

Previous research undertaken by this author ( 13 ) sought to examine two main problems:

The research examined strategic planning in three health care services—Calgary Health Region in Canada, Central Northern Adelaide Health Service in South Australia and, Western Health in Victoria. Key questions explored the perceived meaning and value of strategy and strategic planning in the public health sector and, how plans are developed and importantly, implemented.

Approaching the research questions predominately through an operational lens facilitated the identification of a number of reasons why strategic planning in health (from the perspectives of the health service planner) was not considered a useful tool. The key reasons cited included:

Research respondents made specific statements such as:

‘ They’re more pre-occupied with the discipline, integrity and virtuosity of the plan itself than they are with how it could be implemented. ’

‘ I think also that there is a reluctance, particularly because some of the key stakeholders are clinicians and they’ve been involved in so many planning sessions that it gets to a point when they sit there and say that it’s just going to be like the other one – why don’t you just do the same thing again! They suggest that we just re-write the same document. I think that they’ve all had experiences about contributing to what we thought would be a really valuable plan that is never seen again nor used .’

It was also clearly evident from both the literature and research findings that the impact of political agendas cannot be dismissed when considering strategy formation in the public sector. There were numerous examples where changes in government followed by subsequent changes in political priorities, resulted in previously agreed strategic plans left on the shelf of yesterday’s dreams. It is the complex environment in which public health systems operate. Health leaders need to understand the opportunities that political support can provide in terms of strategy implementation but also understand the impact of an absence of such support. Strategy formation as a political process needs to be acknowledged, however perceptions that the public health system is constantly responding to the whims of politicians also needs consideration in terms of how to engage stakeholders in the planning and delivery of strategy.

Stewart ( 14 ) argues that policy strategy, which sits within the realm of Ministers and senior government officials, is often ad hoc and determined by short-term media driven priorities. If strategy is perceived as political whim, then perhaps the challenge for health leaders, as it is for Ministers, is the translation of ad hoc political decision-making into a leadership and management context that creates some consistency and, importantly connects to overarching strategic intent.

Key opportunities

There are a number of opportunities to enhance our current approaches to the strategic planning process and to create conditions where the value of this management tool is maximised.

It is suggested that this is achieved:


The healthcare system is frequently described as a complex adaptive system; a collection of individual agents that have the freedom to act in ways that are not always predictable. Complex organisations, such as the public health system, have demonstrated adaptive, creative and capable ways of developing solutions to problems for decades and many of these innovations have arisen from the bottom up. However, in attempting to make sense of the future and to create some sense of control and stability; scenario analysis and other such predictive tools have been utilised to support a predominantly top-down approach to strategic planning. Smith ( 8 ) argues that such linear approaches are flawed because they are founded on the faulty expectation of causality, even though the notion of strategy itself is on the reduction of uncertainty.

People will participate in planning and support the implementation of plans if they value the intended outcomes and believe they are achievable. If the strategy does not fit with their current lived experience and seems intangible, then the challenge lies in gaining commitment. This needs to be part of the thinking associated with the planning process and not an add-on function once the plan is documented.

It is acknowledged that predominantly health service managers and leaders are held accountable for deliverables in the short-term. Targets such as budget performance, access/wait times and activity are in fact the reality of a public sector health service. However given the complexity of the system and an environment of unprecedented change, perhaps the health system would be better served by leaders who had the capacity to link short-term targets to the stability offered through strategy or as Smith ( 8 ) suggests, perhaps we are better led by senior officers who are able to manage boundaries that govern equilibrium, as it is in this environment that innovation and creativity are likely to emerge.


Funding: None.

Provenance and Peer Review: This article was commissioned by the editorial office, Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy for the series “Health Service Management”. The article did not undergo external peer review.

Conflicts of Interest: The author has completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form (available at http://dx.doi.org/10.21037/jhmhp.2019.10.03 ). The series “Health Service Management” was commissioned by the editorial office without any funding or sponsorship. CD served as the unpaid Guest Editor of the series and serves as an unpaid editorial board member of Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy from Dec 2017 to Nov2019. The author has no other conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Statement: The author is accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Open Access Statement: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), which permits the non-commercial replication and distribution of the article with the strict proviso that no changes or edits are made and the original work is properly cited (including links to both the formal publication through the relevant DOI and the license). See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ .

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Strategic Planning In Healthcare: 2023 Guide + Examples

Sara Seirawan

Sara Seirawan


This guide contains new healthcare planning strategies, their benefits, examples, traps to avoid, and all you need to know.

Whether you’re a medical business owner, an executive, or a practitioner, my promise to you is that, by the end of this article, you’ll get a razor-sharp understanding of what strategic planning is and how it can skyrocket your operational efficiency.

Here’s a brief outline of what I’ll cover:

What is strategic planning in healthcare?

Strategic planning in healthcare is setting long-term objectives for your medical business and an action plan to hit your target goals. It’s about taking a proactive approach to building a future-proof medical brand.

There are many strategies (which we’re going to look at) to achieve a strategy-driven business model, but before we go deep into the details, let’s check how this can benefit your practice.

The benefit of strategic planning in healthcare

With a good strategic approach comes great advantages for your medical business.

1) It protect your medical business from unforeseen risks

With the Covid-19 situation, healthcare providers no longer can afford to function reactively. And this is where SP (strategic planning) comes into place. SP, by nature, is a proactive approach. It is focused on long-term goals and future-oriented planning.

This not only immune you against any unlooked-for risks but arms you with a well-crafted plan of what should be done in the face of uncertainty.

The Planning Strategy should work as the shatterproof window for your practice.

2) It speeds up your medical business growth

Having a strategy in place holds everyone involved accountable. This means an increased commitment from your team and faster work processes.

Furthermore, according to Parkinson’s Law, any team, when giving a task, will fill whatever time was allocated for its completion. This not only quickens your operational efficiency, but it also skyrockets your work productivity and patient outcomes.

This enhanced workflow will accelerate the rate at which your medical business grows. Resulting in a faster profit cycle.

The next graph illustrates how business growth rate correlates with operational efficiency.

3) It creates a cohesive workplace for your medical business

Medical businesses routinely separate functions to hierarchical levels to achieve efficiencies, However…

These divides lead to confusion, anxiety, and distrust as employees work at cross-purposes, taking refuge in functional silos instead of a collaborative ecosystem.

This makes your medical staff sub-optimizing when you need all parts working together.

Employees go about directionless, without an understanding of their role in delivering the (non-existent) consistent experience for patients.

To combat this, putting a strategic vision for your business ensures cohesiveness and a united workforce.

The bottom line is : the result of having a shared strategic vision is coherence; the result of aimless workflow is wasted resources.

4) It increases your profit margin

Great medical business owners aim for the stars and land on the moon. And this is what makes strategic financial planning great. It forces you to aim high. This kind of planning breaks the chains of the self-limiting beliefs that are preventing you and your staff from achieving a higher rate of profit margins.

Not only that, but it also makes sure that what you’re doing is directed by a strategy and measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) and not by a mere accumulation of tactics that don’t add up together.

This results in a well-tracked process, efficient way of working, and increased profitability.

3 Common mistakes when implementing healthcare strategic planning

Let’s explore common mistakes medical business fall into when implementing strategic planning workshops.

1) Disregarding their branding efforts

Any medical practice can have strategies, but great medical businesses let their brand act as a decisional filter for their planning effort.

Does your strategy align perfectly with your brand’s core attribute? Does this plan solidify your place in the market or does it weaken your brand’s perceived value? If you don’t have a grounded brand in place, your strategy might end up hurting your medical business.

If you’d like to learn more about brand building and how can you build a mouth-watering brand, you can check our free healthcare branding guide .

2) Focusing on too many metrics and KPIs

Getting distracted by too many metrics is the fast lane to a crumbling healthcare plan. Many practices try to implement a strategy but end up focusing on the wrong metrics and getting overwhelmed.

It is best to list out critical KPIs (key performance indicators) for your medical brand before embarking on a strategy.

3) Lack of professional facilitators

Any healthcare strategic plan needs a good facilitator. A facilitator that has a great knowledge of the healthcare industry know-how and its business side of things. Common trap healthcare organizations or practices fall into is trying to implement these strategies in-house. This leads to unproductive workshops and unfruitful results.

We strongly advise you to outsource these strategies to great facilitators that have past-experience running healthcare strategic planning workshops. This will save you time and provide you with the best result for your medical business.

Best Healthcare Planning Strategies (With Examples)

Let’s go through some of the essentials of strategic planning methods in healthcare.

1) S.W.O.T Analysis Strategy

S.W.O.T is a strategic planning technique used to define your healthcare organization’s (or practice’s) Strengths , Weaknesses , Opportunities , and Threats in the competitive landscape.

SWOT Analysis arms you with a clear overview of critical metrics that are key for your performance and the overall success of your medical business.

Let’s see some examples of SWOT Diagrams in healthcare.

Hospital strategic plan: SWOT example

Strategic planning in nursing: swot example, 2) s.w.o.t strategy canvas™.

SWOT Analysis is not enough to measure the success of your efforts.

That’s why our team at unnus developed the SWOT Strategy Canvas™ (SSC), a visual representation graph of the impact SWOT has on your medical brand.

The SSC could be conducted every 6 months to track the efficiency and the effort of SWOT.

SSC graph tracks the Impact Rate of each element of the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). The goal is to witness a low Impact Rate of weakness and threats and a high Impact Rate of Strengths and Opportunities.

If you’d like to know more about the how-tos and other details of SWOT analysis and SSC, check our step-by-step guide on SWOT here .

3) Brand Vision Strategy

Brand Vision Strategy is a planning method used to define concrete objectives for your medical brand and set up trackable metrics for the overarching vision.

The Brand Vision Strategy has three stages:

Let’s see how the three stages overlap.

#First~ The 15 Year Vision Plan

The 15 Year vision Plan is where we start defining the higher goals and aspirations that your medical business needs to achieve.

The benefit of this stage are threefold:

#Second~ Brand Obituary

What will happen if your practice closes its door tomorrow? Would journalists write headlines heralding your past achievements, or would their stories simply add you to a list of bygones? Would employees wonder how it could have ended, or would they have known it was inevitable? Would patients mourn your passing, or would the demise of your medical brand go unnoticed?

Unlike the 15 Year Vision Plan, this method works as a risk assessment and proactive approach for future commitment.

This exercise will force you to think through some of the key elements that make up your brand.

Here’s an example of this technique from our client, a dental practice Confidental™.

#Third~ Brand Vision Matrix

In this stage, we get strategic by defining a set of metrics to track and check back against your overarching vision. This stage focuses on tracking and measuring your progress towards the final goal of the strategy.

The metrics that we’re going to measure in this stage fall into four categories:

Each category will contain the following:

Here’s an example of a hospital’s Brand Vision Matrix:

Click here for larger version.

4) Brand Cause And Effect Strategy

This strategy helps you pinpoint the root causes of complex problems that are hindering your business growth. The premise of this strategy is to take on a big problem and start dissecting it into categorical components or “sub issues”.

This way you can spot deeply-embedded issues that are causing the main problem. You can think of this strategy as more a way to treat the problem rather than finding it.

The benefits of this strategy are:

Here’s an example for this strategic planning technique for a hospital

5) Patient Journey Strategy

The patient journey strategy (PJS) is a visual representation strategy of your patient’s experience. It allows you to capture the path that a patient follows when they book an appointment, sign up for a care service membership, or otherwise interact with your medical business.

This strategy focuses on every single touchpoint (places where patients interact with your business) and hone in on what can be improved, fixed, or removed.

Patients are the lifeblood of your business and zero in on your patient’s pain points, challenges, and needs are critical for success.

Some of the benefits of using this strategy are:

Here’s a snapshot of a patient journey of medical practice and how the team identified potential issues and problems

Click here for to larger version .

6) Risk Assessment Matrix Framework

The Risk Assessment Matrix creates a framework where you can assess the urgency and the likelihood of any potential threat that might affect your business.

This strategy also allows you to better allocate your efforts across multiple aspects of your business based on the potential severity of any risk. In addition, it’s a great way to visualize and prioritize where and when should you take action against any business threats.

Risks in this framework should be ranked according to low probability and severity (one- colored green) to the highest possible likelihood (ten-colored red). Ranking them in this way lets your team tackle the biggest threats with a sharp action plan.

Here’s an example of this framework:

You can access the full version here .

7) OKR (Objectives & Key Results) Framework

OKRs stands for Objectives & Key Results. An OKR framework helps medical businesses solve their critical organizational problems. As a framework, OKRs also help healthcare leadership teams discuss how the work of the staff ties back to the overall business strategy.

OKRs should be transparent to everyone: top-down, bottom-up, and cross-functional. When everyone’s looking at the same framework, everyone has the opportunity to work toward the same outcomes.

Objectives are the vaccine to “blue sky thinking” – their goal is to help articulate what you want to accomplish. An objective is significant, concrete, and drives you to get tasks done.

Key results are the way you’re going to get those tasks done. Specific and measurable, these quantitative goals act as benchmarks for how you’ll reach objectives. (Think outcomes or results in real numbers.)

8) Brand Prioritization Framework

The Brand Prioritization Framework (BPF), or priority matrix, helps your medical teams prioritize initiatives or service lines based on their impact on your medical brand and the level of effort needed for success.

With nine “buckets” or areas of interest, your team can decide if an idea or plan is low, medium, or high effort. The team can also accordingly decide if that plan will likely have low, medium, or high impact.

As a visual framework, the Brand Prioritization Framework helps you promptly reach an agreement on quick wins, big projects, filler tasks, or anything that could waste time.

An example of the BPF for might be:

You can access a large resolution here .

The ‘secret’ to a fruitful healthcare strategic plan

A great healthcare strategy is always directed by the brand’s attributes. A strategic plan won’t take any business anywhere if it is not guided by your branding strategy.

A planning strategy could potentially hurt your healthcare brand equity (your perceived worth) if it veers off from your brand’s positioning in the market . If you’d like to learn more about branding in healthcare and how it can overhaul your strategic plan, you can check our guide here .

If you’re busy and looking for great healthcare brand strategy facilitators, contact us here and we’d gladly help you.

Pass this on:

Sara Seirawan

Sara Seirawan, Head of content, manages unnus's content distribution and marketing efforts. She's also a chief author at unnus Magazine.

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5 Strategic Planning Best Practices in Hospital Management

what is strategic planning for hospitals stand

Managing a hospital is challenging work, and crafting an effective strategic plan for one is even more formidable in our uncertain economic and political climate.  Since the ACA passed in 2010, healthcare access has expanded , hospitals have grown more complex and specialized in their internal departments, more medical providers have transitioned into hospitals, and insurance companies have more leverage than ever to negotiate prices with the larger pool of insured persons.

In healthcare, we pledge first to “do no harm,” so don’t risk harm to your organization by conducting a hospital management strategy burdened with uncertainty, miscommunication, and an amorphous vision.  Here are 5 best practices for strategic planning in hospital management:

1. Let the Process Lead

A strategic plan should manage your resources efficiently by funneling them smoothly from big ideas to daily actions. There is a natural flow to strategic plan anatomy:

Mission, vision, and values rarely change—they are constant and foundational touchstones for the overall direction of your hospital.

Objectives are set (and reviewed/revised from time to time) to move you closer to the broad aspirations of your vision statement in smaller, more realistic 3-5 year targets.  

Strategies are established next, to pursue the goals you’ve set through concretely actionable projects and initiatives.  

Measures must finally be selected to track progress toward your objectives and identify whether the strategies you’ve implemented are having their intended impact or need to be changed.  

Adhering to this hierarchical cascade helps your hospital avoid drifting away from its vision and mission, but leaves you agile enough to adapt and change strategies in an uncertain future.  

2. Plan in the Open  

Include your entire staff in the development and implementation of action plans to give them a sense of ownership and keep them engaged in the big picture.  

Too many hospitals make the mistake of keeping strategy at the top level, but when you communicate goals and rationale clearly with the people who actually have to carry out the strategic plan, you’ll improve that plan’s efficiency and overall chance of success.

healthcare balanced scorecard strategy map templates

3. Set Realistic Goals 

If you hope to achieve real improvements in your hospital, then you need to avoid goals with outlandish financial requirements and grandiose transformations. Impractical goals will stifle your organization’s progress, but attainable ones can inspire you by producing measurable results that will fuel future progress and more advanced goals.

You’ll know if your goals are actually feasible if you’re able to develop finite, viable, and realistic strategies and projects that can facilitate the successful deployment of those goals.

4. Narrow Your Focus

Setting too many disparate goals can dilute your resources, confuse your management team, and fragment your efforts into ineffective half-measures.  

Keep it simple, stick to the top five or six changes you want to see, and then reallocate time and effort as the needs of each goal progress and evolve.  Done effectively, this will allow you to snowball your resources as some of the targets are reached and others receive increased focus. Less is truly more when setting goals.

5. Don’t Drown Yourself In Numbers

Too many statistics and performance metrics can needlessly confuse your management team and create conflicts in your assessment of goals and strategies.  Stick to relatively few, high-impact, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) KPIs that are each linked directly to a goal of your organization. This means making sure that the objective measures you track have obvious links to the results you want to realize in the hospital.  

Well-designed measures can help you decide whether your strategies are producing the results you need or if your approach needs to change.  Most strategic planning goals only need one or two KPIs to accurately measure progress towards objectives. Frequency of assessment can also vary by KPI.  For example, short-term goals tend to require more frequent tracking (perhaps monthly), whereas long-term goals might be reviewed less often (quarterly).

With these guiding principles and other best practices in hospital management , strategic planning in healthcare can be both straightforward and impactful.  A vigilant, proactive approach to improving your hospital’s strategic planning process can head off potential pitfalls in your objectives and execution before they arise.

Topics: Healthcare Strategic Planning

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Why Strategic Planning is Important in Healthcare

December 1, 2018

The healthcare industry is sometimes too complex and confusing for most to understand. It’s always changing due to technological advancements or government mandates . It’s becoming more important to plan the success of your healthcare organization. By preparing for the future, your organization can better prepare for the unknown. A strong strategic plan helps all levels of your business, no matter how large or small.

What is Strategic Planning in Healthcare?

Strategic planning in healthcare organizations involves creating objectives and setting goals for where the organization sees itself in the long-term. With these goals and objectives in mind, you can create a plan to achieve them. You can’t just set goals and objectives based on your needs. You also have to set them according to economic trends, government policies, and technological advancements.

Strategic planning in healthcare is critical for healthcare organizations to succeed. Understanding how your organization operates is the key to creating an effective strategic plan for the entire healthcare system to succeed. Sometimes you need to look at the hierarchy of your organization. Determining your company’s goals and setting a path to achieve these goals motivates your staff at every level to succeed with you.

a chessboard illustrating a cohesive planning strategy

Why Strategic Planning is Important in Healthcare?

Improved communication among all chains.

It’s easy for departments at every level to become confused as to what’s going on. Both your employees and stakeholders want to ensure that your organization will have a long-lasting future. They want to know where your organization is headed and the steps it takes to get there. Effective planning in healthcare management can help you create clarity and improve communication. Your strategic plan should address the key issues, your organization’s vision and goals, and the steps to get there. Your employees and stakeholders will have improved confidence and faith in your organization.

Developing and sharing a vision

With this in mind, you can make an impact on every level of your organization. Employees will be committed and motivated to help achieve your vision. Stakeholders will have the confidence and clarity they need to make sound financial decisions. Strategic planning for healthcare facilities that’s clearly developed, executed, and communicated can help each of your individuals carry out your out vision that can lead to a fulfilling future.

Increased employee motivation and engagement

Each of your employees wants to be recognized and heard. Being recognized by their leaders can greatly impact their productivity, engagement, and safety management. Every employee wants to have the responsibility to make decisions they know will benefit your organization. This also motivates them to perform above the minimum acceptable standards as outlined in the job description or performance evaluation. Employees won’t be motivated to improve themselves for an organization that doesn’t state a clear vision or a well-executed game plan.

Transformational leadership and authority

Transformational leadership is a type of leadership that inspires your employees to work harder and to do better. It incorporates techniques that have been cited in organizational behavior literature. Transformational leaders clearly communicate their organization’s vision, believe in their individual employees, and have the abilities to produce high levels of performance. Helping your employees understand how their roles can contribute your organization’s mission and vision is a crucial part of strategic management.

Increased team cooperation and collaboration

Team collaboration and cooperation is an essential component in delivering high-quality healthcare. Employees must work together to make your organization a success. Teamwork is essential for every healthcare industry in order to improve their performance and service. Effective strategic planning models in healthcare can bring your employees together to deliver quality care, great customer service, and increased performance.

Take the time to work on your strategic plan before sharing it with your employees. A well thought-out and executed strategic plan can increase teamwork, improve performance accountability, and increase employee engagement. With all levels working harmoniously together, you can quickly achieve the long-term goals of your organization.

what is strategic planning for hospitals stand


More Like this

Tips for creating a strategic plan for hospitals, 5 best practices for creating a hospital strategic plan in uncertain times.

I came across this article the other day on Becker Hospital Review and thought it would be a great one to share for those in the medical field who are in the strategic planning process.  James R. Trimarchi, director of strategic planning at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, explains what he believes are the 5 best practices for creating a hospital strategic plan in uncertain times.

Healthcare reform legislation has increased demands concerning quality, cost and efficiency of hospitals and health systems. One way to manage these expectations is to create a strategic plan that clearly outlines goals for the future and how to reach them. “Strategic planning is more important now than it’s ever been,” says James R. Trimarchi, director of strategic planning at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. Although strategic planning can help hospitals manage changes from new rules and regulations, it presents its own challenges. “Strategic planning works best when the marketplace is either in a stable trajectory or a known trajectory. The current healthcare environment is neither,” Mr. Trimarchi says. However, practices like frequent evaluation can help combat the uncertain future. Mr. Trimarchi offers five tips for creating a strategic plan in today’s world.

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1. Follow the strategic plan anatomy. The strategic plan establishes several strategies that help focus resources to better achieve mid-range goals that support the organization’s mission and vision. A strategic plan has a cascading anatomy. The mission and vision serve as the touch stone and rarely change. Goals are three- to five-year targets that if achieved would move the organization towards its mission and vision. Strategies are specific actionable approaches. Measures monitor progress towards the goals and are the tool used to determine if particular strategies are working. If a measure indicates a strategy is not effectively moving the organization towards its goals, then the strategy should be discontinued and a different strategy should be launched. Adhering to this cascading anatomy (mission, vision, goals and strategies tracked by measures) helps hospitals avoid drifting away from the core mission and vision in uncertain times yet allows organizations to remain flexible enough to respond to changes in regulations and the marketplace by reallocating resources, Mr. Trimarchi says.

2. Push strategies close to the mission and vision. The larger the separation between strategies and the core mission and vision the more regulatory or marketplace changes can disrupt the relevance of the strategic plan. Choosing strategies closely linked to the mission and vision introduces a level of certainty to an otherwise vague future.

3. Focus on a few goals. Following the “less is more” philosophy is key to forming a successful strategic plan, according to Mr. Trimarchi. If the plan includes too many goals, “not only can you not keep them straight, but you dilute resources,” he says. Instead of a list of 20 goals, Mr. Trimarchi suggests concentrating on the top five to six concerns. Hospitals can then reallocate resources to support and achieve the most important goals.

4. Be realistic. “Identifying the doable” is essential to strategic plans. Keeping goals and strategies realistic will help hospitals make real improvements in the organization, whereas spending time on impractical goals will stifle hospitals’ progress. A common mistake people make when forming a strategic plan is including strategies or goals that are “too grandiose without enough capital or resources to accomplish them” Mr. Trimarchi says. Identifying feasible strategies may be particularly challenging in the current environment. “Ascertaining the doable is somewhat dependent upon your ability to predict the future,” Mr. Trimarchi says. He suggests leaders honestly ask themselves whether they can actually implement a strategy to help ascertain whether a strategy is realistic.

5. Develop really good measures. One of the most important elements of an effective strategic plan is developing measures to monitor progress made towards the goals. Depending on what the measures show, hospitals may have to alter strategies to better reach their goals. “It is so important today to have really good measures to monitor where you’re going because the environment is changing so fast and you may need to change strategies,” Mr. Trimarchi says.Mr. Trimarchi describes a measure Southwestern Vermont Medical Center used to assess progress in its goal of reducing CT scan utilization. SVMC wanted to lower CT use per patient because of the harmful effects of radiation. Simultaneously, however, the hospital was trying to open a new market. If the hospital measured the overall volume of CT scans, the numbers would show an increase because of additional patients from the new market. Instead, SVMC tracked the number of CT scans for patients from a particular zip code in the original market. This technique more accurately measured progress towards the goal of reducing CT scan utilization because it reflected CT use per person within a defined geography. As the overall use of CT scans increased due to an expanding market, the CT scans per zip code decreased, suggesting lower usage per person. This example demonstrates the complexity of thinking required to develop useful strategic measures.

The rate at which hospitals should measure progress depends in part on how fast hospitals anticipate meeting their goals, according to Mr. Trimarchi. A short-term goal will require more frequent tracking and evaluation of measures, such as monthly, whereas long-term goals can be reviewed quarterly. Regardless of the frequency of review the question that should be answered is ‘Are we making progress or do we need to change the strategies?’ Mr. Trimarchi says.

Adhering to these five basic practices can help hospitals develop a strategic plan that is focused, effective and flexible. By leveraging measures to continually evaluate progress towards the goals the strategic plan becomes a living document that can guide an institution through uncertain times.

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Strategic planning processes and hospital financial performance


  • 1 Department of Health Care Administration, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, USA. [email protected]
  • PMID: 18546921

Many common management practices in healthcare organizations, including the practice of strategic planning, have not been subject to widespread assessment through empirical research. If management practice is to be evidence-based, evaluations of such common practices need to be undertaken. The purpose of this research is to provide evidence on the extent of strategic planning practices and the association between hospital strategic planning processes and financial performance. In 2006, we surveyed a sample of 138 chief executive officers (CEOs) of hospitals in the state of Texas about strategic planning in their organizations and collected financial information on the hospitals for 2003. Among the sample hospitals, 87 percent reported having a strategic plan, and most reported that they followed a variety of common practices recommended for strategic planning-having a comprehensive plan, involving physicians, involving the board, and implementing the plan. About one-half of the hospitals assigned responsibility for the plan to the CEO. We tested the association between these planning characteristics in 2006 and two measures of financial performance for 2003. Three dimensions of the strategic planning process--having a strategic plan, assigning the CEO responsibility for the plan, and involving the board--are positively associated with earlier financial performance. Further longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate the cause-and-effect relationship between planning and performance.

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10 strategic data and analytics predictions through 2028.

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May 22, 2023

Contributor: Lori Perri

Use them in your strategic vision and delivery planning.

The importance of data and analytics continues to grow across an ever-broadening range of business initiatives, as does the use of technology to support their delivery. Our extensive annual list of D&A predictions can serve as strategic planning assumptions to help you integrate D&A strategy into your digital business roadmap.

“Digital business provides organizations with nearly unlimited possibilities to create business value,” says Gartner Senior Director Analyst Sarah James. “Increasingly, data and analytics has become a primary driver of business success, and the potential for data-driven business strategies is greater than ever, with further acceleration of digital transformation and data-driven business.”

Download Report:   90+ More Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2028

Actionable D&A advice for the future

Strategic planning assumptions help you identify, understand and plan for technology-enabled change, and the resultant business and human impacts. Also use them to spot potential disruption. During the next few years, for example, most enterprises will strive to become more data-centric in a way that drives real business value. 

In all, we produced more than 100 data-and-analytics-related strategic planning assumptions through 2028. They fall into four categories, relating to the future of: 

Core data and analytics 

IT leadership  

D&A in digital business functions 

D&A in industry verticals

Here are 10 predictions that illustrate the degree to which D&A is pervading value creation in a wide range of digital initiatives — and the need to prepare accordingly.

No. 1: By 2026, more than a quarter of Fortune 500 chief data and analytics officers (CDAOs) will have become responsible for at least one top-earning product that is based on data and analytics.

CDAOs are the primary leaders for data and analytics , and must be able to prove successful outcomes to their key business stakeholders.Thriving CDAOs can grow in their position and make a positive impact on the performance of the organization.

No. 2: Through 2026, more than $10 billion will have been invested in AI startups that rely on foundation models (large AI models trained on huge amounts of data).

AI will greatly impact technology products and all aspects of product management. Product and offering managers must take an in-depth look at how AI can help them work toward improving their value proposition now.

No. 3: By 2026, 75% of organizations will adopt a digital transformation model predicated on cloud as the fundamental underlying platform.

Cloud computing has exceeded all expectations and evolved tremendously in its delivery of services. Operation leaders are tasked with supporting digital transformation and faster innovation of  business applications.

No. 4: By 2027, generative design AI tools will automate 70% of the design effort for new web and mobile apps.

Software engineering leaders must continually innovate in order to beat their competition and create an attractive end user and developer experience. There needs to be a focus on powerful innovation across the software development life cycle.

Download Roadmap: Data & Analytics Strategy

No. 5: By 2027, organizations that promote digital dexterity enablement for both managers and employees will have stronger revenue growth year over year than those who have not.

Technology plays a significant role in the employee experience. Digital workplace application leaders must guide strategic investments in digital employee experience and ensure successful implementation.

No. 6: By 2025, 80% of all K-12/primary-secondary education organizations will be leveraging some type of analytics applications designed specifically for K-12 to speed insight.

Education institutions continue to improve and refine long-term strategies. Education CIOs must use these predictions in order to accelerate digital transformation and long-term institutional success.

No. 7: By 2026, more than 75% of governments will gauge digital transformation success by measuring the enduring mission impact.

Governments have increased digital investments in response to what is going on in the world. CIOs can help their organizations accomplish their goals while dealing with technical debt, talent and resource shortages, and service delivery demands.

No. 8: By 2026, 20% of healthcare providers will have shifted away from patient portals tethered to the electronic health record (EHR) in favor of digital front-door solutions for their primary method of digital patient engagement.

Healthcare-provider CIOs must defend against potential risks and take advantage of new business opportunities by delivering a seamless digital experience. Care is moving in a new direction for consumers and patients with innovative engagement opportunities, due to advancing technologies and modernized vendor solutions .

No. 9: By 2026, more than 60% of retail pharmacies will conduct clinical research, helping to support life science trial diversity requirements.

The new era for life sciences is dominated by economic pressures , outside disruptors challenging existing business models, and the merging of advanced technology and scientific innovation. CIOs can use these predictions to understand how the industry can be shaped by these changes.

Download eBook:   5 Data & Analytics Actions for Your Data-Driven Organization

No. 10: By 2026, all the top 20 cloud platform and SaaS providers will offer component marketplaces to enable customers’ composable strategies, differentiating by quality, convenience and security.

Successful product marketers will need to shift focus to strategies and technologies that drive effective and efficient growth. To support growing innovation and change, businesses will prioritize modular applications that deliver their functionality as application programming interface (API)/event-first business components. Technology and service providers will modernize their offerings to support composable application architecture.

Sarah James is a Senior Director Analyst with Gartner. Her research primarily focuses on topics at the intersection of data and human behavior.

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Vietnamese consumers are coming of age in 2023: How businesses can stay ahead

For the past few years, the middle class in Vietnam has been on the rise, spreading out geographically and growing increasingly diverse. 1 “ The new faces of the Vietnamese consumer , ” McKinsey, December 7, 2021. Consumers are growing in number and becoming more demanding and discerning. It is estimated that more than half of the Vietnamese population will enter the global middle class by 2035, creating more disposable income and fueling consumption.

About the authors

Middle-class consumers in Vietnam have generally been optimistic—a sentiment that appears to be prevailing as the country exits a period of economic slowdown and constraint. Vietnam’s prospects remain strong for the upcoming decade, since GDP growth is on the rise again—with year-on-year GDP growth of 2 to 7 percent expected between 2023 and 2030, McKinsey analysis shows. The core engines of Vietnam’s economic development seem robust: in Southeast Asia, wages for workers in the manufacturing sector remain among the lowest in Vietnam, and the country’s workforce is relatively highly educated.

However, against this backdrop of continued development, Vietnam is facing headwinds at the start of 2023 that are likely to impact the ability of its population to spend. For example, demand from key markets such as the United States and the European Union has decreased, leading to a lower forecasted growth in the value of Vietnam’s exports in 2023 (9 to 10 percent, compared with 14 percent in 2022). 2 Navigating Vietnam 2023: Investing with responsibilities for sustainable growth , VNdirect, November 2022. At the same time, inflation is projected to hover around 3.8 percent in 2023, which, though already high, can be perceived as even higher by consumers in the lower-income segments, who bear the brunt of inflation. This can squeeze the mortgage market and leave property developers vulnerable to liquidity pressures, which can have ripple effects on wealth and consumption.

Vietnamese consumers’ overall optimism remains one of the highest among countries globally.

Nevertheless, Vietnamese consumers’ overall optimism remains one of the highest among countries globally. In 2022, over 60 percent of Vietnamese respondents to a 2022 McKinsey Vietnam Consumer Pulse Survey indicated that consumers were optimistic that the country’s economy would rebound within two to three months and grow just as or even more strongly than before the COVID-19 pandemic (Exhibit 1). 3 McKinsey Vietnam Pulse Survey, conducted between December 6 and 13, 2022, sampled and weighted to match Vietnam’s general population aged 18-plus years (n = 1,074). This is still true in 2023, with 70 percent of Vietnamese consumers planning to spend the same or more on the Tet celebration compared with 2022. There is also a clear intent by consumers to “splurge” and treat themselves, with more than 70 percent of respondents saying they intend to increase spending on categories of products or services they spent less on over the past year and a half.

However, Vietnamese consumers, for all their optimism, are also becoming more discerning and value conscious. More Vietnamese consumers anticipate a reduction in income and savings than consumers in other Asia–Pacific countries, with more than 90 percent noting price increases, fears of inflation, gas shortages coupled with higher fuel prices, and rising interest rates (Exhibit 2). These mounting financial pressures and uncertainties are accelerating consumers’ shift to more discerning shopping choices.

The evolving Vietnamese consumer

Vietnam’s consumers are becoming more sophisticated and seem to be evolving in four ways: they are more value conscious, prefer omnichannel platforms, have less brand and store loyalty, and look for purpose in what they buy. This can be captured in a framework called the “four zeros.”

‘Zero mainstream’: Consumers are value conscious, scrimping on some goods but splurging on others

Across categories, inflation and consumers switching to premium brands are driving higher spending, while a reduction in the quantities people buy seems to be driving lower spending.

The impact of this shift is twofold. First, consumers report negative net intent to spend in most categories, except the “core” categories such as groceries and fuel. Consumers are also willing to spend more on household supplies and personal care but less on dining out. A few discretionary categories, such as vitamins, over-the-counter medication, fitness products, and personal healthcare items, saw increasing net intent. Second, within categories, one can expect more spending directed toward either premium price points or more “value for money” offerings, while products priced in the middle could be at risk of being left unsold.

‘Zero boundaries’: Consumers prefer omnichannel shopping and demand a ‘phygital’ experience

Omnichannel shopping that thrived during the pandemic seems to be prevailing. Most consumers—67 to 88 percent—who used alternatives to in-store shopping during the pandemic intend to continue using these channels (Exhibit 3), and 50 to 75 percent of consumers research and buy products through omnichannel platforms, a clear indication of how prevalent the use of these platforms is in Vietnam. Perpetuating this trend are the technology and media players that continue to deliver omnichannel offerings. At the same time, boundaries between product categories are also being eroded, as purveyors expand their repertoire of goods and services. There are specific items that buck this trend, such as groceries and vitamin supplements, which customers prefer to buy in-store, but these are the only exceptions.

Younger consumers are significantly more influenced by social media, with Instagram, YouTube, and Tik Tok driving their purchasing decisions. Gen Z is particularly influenced by social media content on skin care and makeup, accessories such as jewelry and footwear, personal-care products, and food takeout or delivery. A large number of consumers are buying digital and remote services, and they show every intent to continue doing so across service categories.

‘Zero loyalty’: Consumers do not feel tied to a store or brand

Consumers in Vietnam continue to exhibit little loyalty to both stores and brands and freely change their shopping habits to optimize their purchases. Among consumers in Asia–Pacific, those in Vietnam report being the least loyal, with 90 percent having switched stores or brands in the past three months (Exhibit 4). This behavior could be stronger in the southern part of the country, where more new brands and stores have been entering the market.

Consumers are not just being brand or store agnostic, they are also not buying the same types of products. Driving this is the bifurcation of consumers wanting more premium products while also being more value conscious. Getting better perceived value is a primary reason consumers switch brands, with quality, novelty, and personal choices among other top reasons. In the early months of 2023, brands owned by retailers were also on the rise in Vietnam—and they can benefit from the current tailwinds by snapping up consumers who are willing to switch or try brands.

‘Net zero’: Consumers buy purposefully and are making healthier, more sustainable, and local choices

Discretionary categories associated with health and sustainability saw increasing net intent. For example, 75 percent of consumers surveyed intend to continue healthy behaviors such as using a wellness app and telemedicine providers; 28 percent expect brands to be purpose driven, which includes factors like sharing customer values and looking after their employees’ wellness. While consumers value aspects of sustainability, helping the environment seems to be of a lower priority—only 24 percent of consumers indicate that purchasing products using eco-friendly ingredients and recyclable packing materials is important, and only 31 percent say that they are willing to pay an additional premium or switch to premium, higher-priced brands to support the environment.

Consumer-facing companies need to transition to a new growth model

In line with Vietnam’s middle class becoming larger, more widely dispersed, and wealthier, companies competing in Vietnam may want to adjust their value propositions to tap into the increased demand this shift brings. Here are four detailed factors for companies to consider:

  • Align portfolios and distribution channels with consumers’ value-for-money needs . This might require broader offerings, as well as experimenting with new retail formats, such as discounters, and promotional activities like loyalty schemes and cash-back programs.
  • Shape a premium offering catering to affluent, less price-sensitive customers , especially the younger generations who are willing to splurge. This can have several implications. First, within existing categories, this means that companies will likely need to accelerate innovations to broaden the range of products they offer and tap into more sophisticated demands. Second, this may also signal the maturity of the Vietnamese consumer market in that there is space for more premium brands to enter. Companies with a portfolio of brands and established distribution may want to consider bringing their more premium offers to Vietnam.
  • Expand distribution toward the next tier of cities in Vietnam . This may require companies to broaden their distribution of goods and route-to-market models while tapping into a consolidating but still fragmented retail network. For fast-moving-consumer-goods players, this means continuing to drive general trade distribution while increasingly working out favorable terms with the national chains that are expanding.
  • Inject meaning into consumer offerings . Consumers increasingly look for products that are healthier and purposeful, such as food, beverages, and supplements featuring organic ingredients. Buying brands that are local or perceived to be local can also fulfill consumers’ desire to be purposeful, and strong local players seem to have significant market share (Exhibit 5). Developing these types of products are therefore likely to accelerate growth.

As Vietnam’s consumer market becomes more demanding, the capabilities companies require for success will also change. Specifically, the following five capabilities have become critical factors for consumer-facing companies:

  • Localize global products innovatively . Local brands or brands perceived to be local fare better, as Vietnamese consumers tend to derive a sense of pride from them. Companies can cater to this nuance, which includes subsegments of customers and specific budgets, by localizing global product innovations while also prioritizing hero SKUs in traditional trade, rotating them strategically in limited shelf space.
  • Master revenue growth management . Optimizing this for both affordability and “premiumization” is key, as 80 percent of revenue growth is driven by the consuming class having more discretionary spend. This will require consumer-facing companies to build analytical capabilities—for example, to automate some pricing and promotional decisions based on real market data, then tailoring product assortments to a type of store or region to maximize the return on promotional investments.
  • Save to invest in an area of conscious spending . The ability to compete in an inflationary context, sometimes by compressing margins to retain value-conscious consumers, becomes more important than ever and requires resilience. To achieve this, consumer-facing players should drive end-to-end saving programs, which go across levers and across areas in the organization, from supply chain to people, procurement, marketing, and promotional spending. New skills are typically required to conduct these programs successfully, without disrupting the core mission of the company, while managing to extract value to “feed” the right investments.
  • Adjust the operating model . Striking the right balance between ownership (either by region or by category) and discipline to allow for speed and agility can enable commercial organizations to produce innovative products and allocate resources effectively. For consumer-facing companies, this typically leads to redefining and reinventing commercial roles: on one hand providing additional digital and analytical support—for example semiautomated route planning and sales scripts in stores—and on the other hand ensuring that teams operating in regions or channels have the autonomy they need to be agile.
  • Leverage new business models to fuel the growth . Using business model innovation can create additional value as the consumer matures and becomes more demanding and more connected. For example, retailers can invest in retail-media-network capabilities to better monetize their data or invest in digital ecosystems that allow them to better serve consumers by offering a more integrated experience.

Consumer businesses would do well to ride on the high levels of optimism that hold strong in Vietnam despite headwinds on the horizon. Adjusting their growth models to respond positively to current conditions could allow them to overcome existing challenges and leverage sizable opportunities, and at the same time tap into the growth trajectory, preparing them to compete in a more sophisticated playing field.

Resil Das is a consultant in McKinsey’s Bengaluru office; Matthieu Francois is a partner in the Ho Chi Minh office, where Linh Pham and Van Pham are consultants; Khant Khant Kyaw is a consultant in the Singapore office, where Dymfke Kuijpers is a senior partner.

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