In the previous Prep Talk article, we covered information about the purchase of medical equipment and how that process may play into the certified healthcare technology manager (CHTM) examination. As previously stated, buying medical equipment is not just about finding the best price for the device needed. It’s a process that requires input from all stakeholders to ensure that the purchase meets the needs identified by the organization. This is done through a process called strategic planning, and it is the driving force behind new purchases at a healthcare facility.

Most organizations such as healthcare facilities have a 5-year or 10-year strategic plan, and some have both. Strategic planning should clearly define the organization’s objectives while incorporating critical analysis of both internal and external factors to determine long-range plans. It begins with examining the mission statement of the organization and identifying internal and external influences that will determine what needs to be done to help the organization uphold its mission statement. The process ends with developing a results-based system of accountability.

Above all, strategic planning should allow every department of the organization to offer input to ensure the plan addresses opportunities while avoiding possible pitfalls. If you have studied any management theory, you may know this process by other names such as mission and objectives, environmental scanning, or strategy formation.

There are many management theories about strategic planning, but all strategic plans answer some basic information about the organization. Five questions that must be addressed before beginning the strategic process are: 1) Where are we? 2) What do we have to work with? 3) Where do we want to be? 4) How do we get there? 5) How do we know if the plan is successful?

The first two questions are answered by analyzing the internal and external constraints the organization must consider. This initial analysis should provide insight into the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. It should also include data to show where opportunities may lie ahead and identify any threats that could impede the strategic plan. This plan should capitalize on the organization’s strengths while minimizing threats associated with implementation.

The process of identifying strengths and weaknesses might go as follows. Let’s say you have two competing healthcare facilities in the same city. Hospital A is well known for its NICU department and receives almost all the most critical neonate patients, while hospital B has a well-known labor and delivery department. In this scenario, hospital A might want to capitalize on its strength of serving NICU patients, while hospital B may want to focus on labor and delivery issues.

However, when each hospital conducts its environmental scan of internal and external influences, the resulting strategic plan could look totally opposite. Hospital A may want to focus on strengthening its weakness in the labor and delivery department. Hospital B may do the same and want to enhance its NICU. Exactly which way the strategic plan turns out will depend on the process itself and the feasibility of implementing the plan. The makeup of the planning committee and the organization’s mission statement may also determine which way the strategic plan turns.

Once the organization understands where it is and what it has to work with, the next question it must address is where it wants to be. The answer to this question will also be guided by the organization’s mission statement, along with the information gained from the internal and external evaluations. At this point in the process, the organization needs to formulate a strategy to help it reach where it wants to be. This strategy will have to consider many variables such as the organization’s finances, personnel, facilities, and infrastructure. At this step, the plan should prioritize the goals that the process has identified. For example, if an organization has concluded that a new monitoring system will help support its mission statement but old infrastructure will not allow the new technology to work, then it must perform upgrades first. Just like with the process for purchasing new medical equipment, you want input from all stakeholders so as not to create problems later when executing the plan.

After implementation of the strategic plan, there must be a way to evaluate it to see if it is providing the enhancements the organization intended. During this final step, the organization must determine which measurements to make and at what interval. These measurements must include target benchmarks so the organization can determine if the implementation process needs to be adjusted. The organization must then perform the agreed-upon measurements and compare the actual results to the target results—and, of course, take action to make necessary changes so the plan can come to fruition.

This is a very brief explanation of an organizational strategic plan that involves many stakeholders. The basic framework—reviewing the mission statement, completing both environmental scans to form a strategy, and then designing an implementation strategy and a process to evaluate the strategy—is essential to all strategic plans.

I hope you find this information useful in your journey to become a certified healthcare technology manager.

John Noblitt, MAEd, CBET, is the BMET program director at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, Hudson, NC. For more information, contact chief editor Jenny Lower at [email protected].

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Quick Study

1) The first step in a strategic planning process is to
a) Evaluate the organization’s mission statement
b) Form a 5-year strategy
c) Assemble all internal and external stakeholders
d) Survey employees of the organization

2) The implementation of a strategic plan should provide the organization with a
a) New monitoring system
b) Results-based system of accountability
c) More staff
d) Mission statement

3) A strategic plan must have input from
a) Internal stakeholders
b) External stakeholders
c) Both internal and external stakeholders
d) None of the above

4) This stage of strategic planning must be performed to see if the plan is producing satisfactory results.
a) Internal audit
b) Strategy implementation
c) External surveys
d) Evaluation






Answers: 1—A, 2—B, 3—C, 4—D