A strategic plan is not just a document written by physicians and managers and then filed away for safekeeping. It is a vision for the practice, owned by the practice.
For a medical practice to succeed, everyone must engage with and live and breathe the plan. Strategy should inform your operations, your structure and how you go about practicing medicine. Your strategic plan should be the pillar against which you assess your priorities, actions and performance. As such, it’s mission critical that your plan is comprehensive and up-to-date.
Here are 10 questions to assess your strategic plan:
1. Will your strategy beat the market?
Each year, perform a thorough analysis to get a clear picture of how the competing forces in your specialty are likely to play out. To grow at an accelerated pace, you will need a meaningful point of difference that can’t be easily copied or nullified. Mindlessly copying another practice’s business model is not a strategy — it is a recipe for mediocrity. Do you really have a winning strategy?
2. Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage?
How will you make money in the future? Do you have a unique strategic position, a concept that you “own” in the minds of your target patients? Do you have special capabilities that can’t be easily copied? Remember that nothing lasts forever, so you need to focus on advantages for both today and tomorrow.
3. Are you focused on a clearly defined target?
Push for the narrowest possible segmentation of your target market. You need to aim for the bull's eye to hit the target. Clearly defining and understanding your target market of patients and referring physicians is one of the most powerful things a practice can do to improve its strategy.
4. Does your strategy put you ahead of the trends?
Many strategies place too much weight on current trends. But as the founder of modern management Peter Drucker said, it is not the trends, but “the changes in the trends” that leaders must stay current with. These changes often creep up so slowly that most practices fail to act until it is too late to mount an effective response, let alone take advantage of it. They are held back by sunk costs, an unwillingness to cannibalize a legacy business or an attachment to yesterday’s formula for success.
Instead, you should always look to the edges. How are your patients shopping for healthcare? What are the innovative new entrant competitors doing? What innovations could change your entire specialty?
5. Does your data give you privileged insights?
It is easy to be overwhelmed with data. The key is to make sense of it all and obtain actionable insights. Do you really understand your patients? Your referring physicians? Your competition? Practices that go out of their way to experience the world from their patients’ perspective will develop better strategies. The same exercise in perspective applies to your referring physicians and competitors, too.
Next: 5 more ways to plan for success