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.

what is strategic planning for hospitals use

Strategic Planning and Annual Planning for Hospitals (with Recommended Frameworks)

Strategic Planning and Annual Planning for Hospitals (with Recommended Frameworks)

Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg

October 17, 2012

Strategic planning and annual planning are both planning processes.

Strategic and annual plannings are hospital’s processes of defining (if not previously done) or reviewing (if there is a previous definition already) its business direction and making decisions on how to pursue this direction and on allocating its resources (capital and people) to pursue this direction.

Strategic plans have longer planning time horizons, usually 3 to 5 years with a vision for 10 years or more.  Annual plans, as the word “annual” means, have a 1-year planning time horizon.

Strategic and annual plans should be aligned, coordinated, collaborative and integrated towards achievement of hospital’s vision, mission, goals and objectives.

If the planning time horizon of the strategic plan is 3 years, then there must be a 3-year strategic plan (which is a general plan) and there must three annual plans (which are specific plans for the year).  Each annual plan (which is more detailed than the strategic plan) must be aligned, coordinated, collaborative, and integrated with the 3-year strategic plan.  At the end of the first, second, and third year, the 3-year strategic plan must be referred to and used as guide for tracking and evaluation of accomplishments and review for any needed changes, both major and minor. 

Planning, both strategic and annual, should be done at the level of the whole hospital and at the level of the units (or departments).  Planning at both levels must be aligned, coordinated, collaborative and integrated. For example, planning at the hospital level must consider the plans of the units (or departments). Planning at the level of the units (or departments) must contribute to and be aligned with the hospital plans. 

Below are my recommended frameworks for strategic and annual plannings at hospital level.  See attachment for the MS Word files. These frameworks can also be used at the unit (or department) level.  Remember, planning at both levels must be aligned, coordinated, collaborative and integrated.   

Before going to the details of the two frameworks, look at the differences of the two at a macrolevel.

what is strategic planning for hospitals use


Hospital Strategic Planning Framework


what is strategic planning for hospitals use


Hospital Annual Planning Framework

what is strategic planning for hospitals use

Hospital Strategic Planning Framework rj09oct21_11nov22

Hospital Annual Planning Framework_rj_12oct17

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UW Strategic Planning

Our shared future depends on choices we make today. Based on our community’s shared vision of its future, the UW strategic planning process identifies trends and drivers of change, and takes steps to ensure the UW is responding in ways to keep us on track to thrive in the future.

Drumheller Fountain


The UW of the 21st Century is:

Read the full visioning document, the UW of the 21st Century .

2y2d Plan

The Sustainable Academic Business Plan is a strategic yet practical plan to maintain academic priorities while managing financial realities. The Plan guides near-term goals and activities that will position the UW to thrive in the next two decades.

what is strategic planning for hospitals use

The Sustainable Academic Business Plan includes both academic and administrative initiatives.

Strategic Planning in Hospitals

The healthcare field is always changing and progressing at a rate unlike any other. Over the past few decades it has become more and more important to plan for the future in order for any healthcare practice to be successful for years to come. By planning for the unknown, hospitals, clinics, private practices and other organizations in the healthcare field can be better equipped for whatever may come along down the road.

From the financial side of running an organization , to structural decisions within the hospital or clinic, planning is a necessity. A hospital strategic plan allows for more efficiency in all aspects of the business of running a practice, no matter how big or small.

What is Strategic Planning in Healthcare?

Many people wonder what strategic planning is in healthcare and, fortunately, the answer is simple. Strategic health planning involves creating objectives and setting goals for where a company would like to go in the future, and then constructing a plan to achieve these objectives. In this industry especially, healthcare planning must take into account potential government policy changes, technological advancements and economic trends that could change an organization’s operations in a significant way.

The importance of strategic planning in healthcare should not go unnoticed by any hospital or health system looking to succeed not only in the short run, but long term as well.

One key factor that should be the basis to strategic planning in healthcare organizations is the organization of the institution. Understanding the organization of the institution and how this organization is necessary for the entire system to succeed is important in creating an effective plan with specific strategies.

Sometimes reevaluating who controls which aspects of the business, and the hierarchy that follows, can be beneficial.

Having a sound foundation in which the organization is built upon is important so that communication and ideas can flow freely while implementing strategic healthcare planning. Designing company goals and a path to achieve these objectives allows staff at every level, from administrators to physicians, to have a drive and passion that is extremely important in the medical field.

Benefits of Strategic Planning in Healthcare

The benefits of strategic planning in healthcare are numerous mainly because healthcare planning is composed of many components. Like most businesses, hospitals and healthcare institutions are operating at many levels. From patient care to financing, health systems need to plan for the future in more ways than one.

Unlike traditional plans, strategic planning takes into account what is to come for every sector of the organization, taking into account foreseeable changes for all departments.

The importance of strategic planning in healthcare is also seen when looking at an organization’s productivity. Most institutions believe that they are being as efficient as possible, however, taking a closer look at productivity can provide insight as to where improvements can be made and more specific plans can be set.

Some of the key areas that a hospital strategic plan can significantly improve include:

Questions At The Forefront Of All Healthcare Strategic Planning

Although every organization operates with a plan that is tailored to personal goals and objectives, hospitals and healthcare systems should ask themselves some crucial questions prior to strategic health planning.

What are the financial goals of the organization? Will the implemented changes have a positive impact on these goals?

Financial goals are different for every institution. Focusing on specific, attainable goals for the future of any organization’s finances is key in ensuring that the strategic plans that the organization makes will be beneficial in the long run.

Looking into the implications that the change that come with new plans for the future will have on finances is key in making strategic decisions.

Setting goals prior to strategic planning will help ensure these plans will positively impact the organization in the future.

Where can the organization grow?

Just because a hospital’s strategic plan is made does not necessarily mean that the plan is as effective as possible. Effective strategic plans take into account where an organization can grow. In some cases, growth is not possible in one area, but is in another. Healthcare institutions should look into the financial gains of growth through expansion in location, new access points, and services before beginning to plan.

What are the needs of the population that the organization serves? Will these needs change?

Healthcare systems and hospitals are designed to serve patients however they need. Although the demand for healthcare institutions will always be high, the way in which these institutions will be needed may change.

Understanding future market trends and industry directions is important in order to plan ahead for what patients will need.

How can the organization bridge the gap in achieving critical success factors?

Many times healthcare systems understand the success factors that are necessary to carry out the institution’s vision, but have difficulty implementing them in day to day functions. Strategic planning should incorporate a way to carry out these factors so that success can be achieved efficiently.

Understanding the Healthcare Market

The goals set by an organization cannot be carried out unless there are sound financial and organizational plans set in motion. Unfortunately, understanding the healthcare market is tricky when the system is so volatile. The cost of medical technology and other funds necessary to run a functional healthcare business is not steady.

Changes in policy and law occur periodically, increasing the need for strategic planning in healthcare. Without the proper knowledge it is not easy to know where prices are going, and in which areas to save. Evaluating which investments are more risky than others is important to ensure every decision made is one that will be beneficial down the road.

In order for any business, especially a hospital or medical practice, to stay afloat, long term goals must be determined and eventually met for the longevity of the business. To do so, an analysis of the local markets and the industry as a whole must be conducted to predict the future of these markets.

Being able to accurately predict forecasts is imperative when dealing with multi-million dollar funds. This is not an easy feat if data is not carefully considered, and strategic hospital and health planning has not been conducted thoroughly by those who fully know how to prepare for what is ahead.

healthcare professionals planning financial goals

The Strata Decision Solution: StrataJazz

At Strata Decision Technology, we have a knack for understanding medical markets and ensuring all future targets are seen through for our customers. We have created an all in one system, StrataJazz , which allows leaders in the healthcare industry to strategically plan for what is to come, increasing efficiency across the board.

In the United States, 1 in 5 hospitals have integrated our platform into their organization, resulting in maximum productivity at all levels. StrataJazz is the solution for all that encompasses strategic healthcare planning, like budgeting, tracking, equipment replacement, monthly variance, and productivity reporting.

StrataJazz incorporates our customers past and current data to better understand where  cost improvements  can be made and money can be saved. The Strata Decision experts take into account the organization’s goals, both financially and organizationally.

Through powerful analytics and tactful planning, StrataJazz provides operational budgeting and  capital planning strategies  that are guaranteed to improve how any healthcare organization functions from the ground up.

StrataJazz’s strategic hospital planning uses sophisticated models to determine a long term plan, by understanding operating margins. By incorporating investment goals and how they will likely impact the organization’s P&L, cash flow, and balance sheet, StrataJazz increases the predictability of how to save and where to invest. Short term impacts of market dynamics are analyzed, which can be helpful in understanding where the market may head.

We compare the company’s performance to the leaders in rating agency’s outlooks, including those of Moody’s, Fitch, and S&P. Organizational decisions will also be more accurate through case by case scenario analytics.

Key To Financial Stability

There is risk involved in any investing, but StrataJazz helps manage and assess risk to ensure a more stable financial future. Our system will predict what changes in reimbursements, salaries, and volume can do to performance.

Through analysis tools and scenario modeling, uncertainty in future markets can be minimized, allowing more strategic healthcare planning and decisions to be made. Rolling forecasting used by StrataJazz evaluates risk factors like discrepancies in bundled payments, mergers and acquisitions.

By providing timely and accurate monthly projections and key performance indicators, opportunities for improvements financially, in patient care, and in staff productivity are endless.

Strata Decision Technology has found the key to successful strategic healthcare planning. We have a passion for helping healthcare systems budget and create a long term hospital strategic plan to ensure a safe and successful future. Through detailed analytics and expert advice, StrataJazz will improve the financial status of any healthcare organization in the present and for the future.

We do the hard work for you, allowing you to focus on your number one priority: your patients.

what is strategic planning for hospitals use


Business Jargons

A Business Encyclopedia

Strategic Planning

Definition : Strategic Planning can be understood as a systematic long-range planning activity, that an organization uses to fix priorities, strengthen operations, ascertain objectives and focus on the resources required and are to be allocated in order to pursue the strategy and attain the objectives.

It is a part of the strategic management process , which ensures that every aspect of the organization is working towards the achievement of the organization’s goals, i.e. in the right and intended direction.

Strategic Planning ascertains what an organization is, to whom it serves, where is it going and what are the paths, which are to be followed to follow its vision. It includes strategic decision making, strategic intent , strategic management model and strategy formulation .

Characteristics of Strategic Planning

strategic planning

Strategic Planning is a logical effort, that envisions the desired future, by producing various alternative actions and decisions, to formulate an effective strategy, that brings success to the organisation. It helps in analysing and adjusting the organisation’s efforts as a whole, according to the changing business environment.

Strategic Planning Stages

Both internal and external analysis of the firm is performed during the exercise; wherein internal analysis entails an evaluation of financial performance, operational limitations, current market position/share corporate culture, strengths and weaknesses.

On the other hand, external analysis concentrates on the analysis of competition, trends, changing business environment, opportunities and threats, latest technology and so forth.

Related terms:

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Very excellent website for learning & even research purpose.

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SWOT Analysis for Stevens District Hospital Strategic Planning Scenario

Based on the performance analysis review of the Stevens District Hospital, a SWOT analysis will provide an objective and a realistic assessment of the whole facility. It will be used as a decision-making tool that will help in revealing the crucial internal and external issues that are related to the operations of the hospital.

SWOT Analysis

Moseley, G. B. (2018). Managing health care business strategy. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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  1. Strategic Planning In Healthcare: 2023 Guide + Examples

    Strategic planning in healthcare is setting long-term objectives for your medical business and an action plan to hit your target goals. S.W.O.T is a strategic planning technique used to define your healthcare organization's (or practice's) Strengths

  2. What is Strategic Planning in Health Care?

    Strategic planning in health care, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), refers to the process of defining an organization's direction and making decisions that align with its long-term goals

  3. Strategic Planning and Annual Planning for Hospitals (with Recommended Frameworks)

    Strategic Planning and Annual Planning for Hospitals (with Recommended Frameworks) Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg October 17, 2012 Strategic planning and annual planning are both planning processes

  4. How Strategic Planning Benefits Hospitals & Healthcare Systems in 2019

    The importance of strategic planning in healthcare should not go unnoticed by any hospital or health system looking to succeed not only in the short run, but long term as well

  5. What is Strategic Planning? definition, characteristics and stages

    Definition: Strategic Planning can be understood as a systematic long-range planning activity, that an organization uses to fix priorities, strengthen operations, ascertain objectives and focus on the resources

  6. 5 Intangible Benefits Of Hospital Strategic Planning

    For one, the critical and multifaceted role hospital strategic planning plays today is increasingly vital to a hospital's ability to proactively plan for and respond to dynamic changes and trends occurring in the external environment

  7. SWOT Analysis for Stevens District Hospital Strategic Planning Scenario

    It will be used as a decision-making tool that will help in revealing the crucial internal and external issues that are related to the operations of the hospital. Analysis of existing information from Stevens