3 overlooked aspects of strategic planning

Hospitals tend to overlook key aspects of strategic planning, health economist Paul Keckley, Ph.D., writes in a post for Hospitals & Health Networks.

Hospital planning typically emphasizes contracting strategies with payers, affiliations, physician collaboration and reimbursement challenges during the strategic planning stage, states Keckley, managing director at the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, but a few other topics often go unaddressed. They include:

Prices: With high-deductible health plans shifting healthcare costs to consumers and more employers negotiating prices directly with hospitals, hospitals need to take the lead on price transparency, Keckley writes. Board members should ask themselves key questions, such as "How does a hospital compare to its competitors based on head-to-head for price-sensitive services?" and "Where are online purveyors of your hospital's pricing getting their information?"

Medical necessity: Hospital boards tend to assume that staff orders for procedures and treatments meet standards for evidence-based care, but further scrutiny is necessary, Keckley writes. Unnecessary care is an increasing problem within healthcare, with the Affordable Care Act levying substantial penalties for unnecessary procedures under the False Claims Act. Whenever boards find variations on evidence-based care within practice patterns, they must address them, according to Keckley. Further, they must ensure that outcomes, patient experience an safety data confirm their measures for medical staff quality.

Leadership competency: As the nature of the healthcare industry changes, bringing in nontraditional competitors and a complex regulatory framework, boards must increase their emphasis on leadership competency. Under the current status quo, Keckley writes, this aspect of the business "is rarely addressed until a problem forces the discussion." To properly assess the issue, he writes, hospital leaders must ensure they independently discuss the succession plan for C-suite executives, weed out underperforming leaders, and make sure healthcare leaders understand the dynamics of the market.

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