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4 Ways to Refocus Your Strategic Planning

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, May 6, 2011

Think back to 2008. A huge recession was upon us, brought about by a series of events for which healthcare shouldered no blame. But like the rest of us whose lives were turned upside down by the event, healthcare was suffering.

Low patient volumes, a locked up debt market and a suddenly overstaffed workforce (based on substantially reduced inpatient volumes) were only a few of the major problems confronting senior leaders in healthcare.

The emphasis then was on the now, and many senior leaders told us in our annual HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey that they were forgoing strategic planning for the time being. This step seemed a prudent one, as many of the assumptions senior leaders once used to build a successful long-term strategy seemed not to apply anymore. At least, there were more pressing problems to solve.

But it's not a smart move to continue to lag in strategic planning. If you cut back on strategic planning via layoffs or by moving employees to other tasks to focus on immediate concerns, now's the time to rebuild, if you haven't already done so. Big changes are coming not only to the reimbursement system, but also in the ways healthcare organizations must evolve to change their care delivery methods. You can't make those moves without a well-thought-out, deliberate plan.

I thought I would revisit this topic in an attempt to learn how one of the best organizations seeks to ready itself for the future, and that led me to Danville, PA-based Geisinger Health System, which stakes its reputation as an innovator in being able to spot trends and improve the health of the communities they serve.

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