8 elements of a successful health system strategy

News & Innovation

by LaVone Arthur

Nov 29, 2017

In A Leadership Perspective, Baylor Scott & White Health leaders share insights on healthcare industry trends, current issues and best practices.

Health systems across the country are working toward a common goal: to improve the health of the communities we serve by delivering high-quality, cost-efficient healthcare. Healthcare leaders are determining the best way to achieve it while operating within a rapidly changing competitive landscape and an environment of health policy uncertainty.

In order to be nimble in the way we model and deliver healthcare at Baylor Scott & White, we must adjust our focus to ensure our goals and objectives align with how we care for our patients every day and in the future.

We’ve been working over the past several months to refine our system strategy. But what does that really mean?

Our work began with a deep dive into understanding what really makes a successful strategy in any industry. Whether it’s a commercial airline or national coffeehouse chain, organizations with proven track records of success work from strategies that share common elements.

A successful strategy starts with your mission. Strategy is really a set of choices and actions, and those choices should always be reflective of your mission. Above all else, be true to your mission and values, and ensure your organization is aligned along that journey.

At Baylor Scott & White, our mission is to serve all people by providing personalized health and wellness through exemplary care, education and research as a Christian ministry of healing. Our mission is the foundation for everything we do.

A successful strategy requires discipline and focus. Successful companies are all focused on being the best at their core business. This comes back to making choices and having the discipline to narrow down your priorities. Where do you really excel? Concentrate on being the best at delivering that to the customer.

A successful strategy aims for customer loyalty instead of customer satisfaction. Great companies understand they have to do more than just provide great service in the moment. They must provide a superior customer experience that creates long-term loyalty.

In the healthcare environment, that involves looking at ways to better serve patients when and where they want to be served.

Our patients are technologically savvy and have more ready-access to information than they’ve ever had before. They want on-demand service and evidence-based care. As a health system, we have to be responsive and create an experience that’s similar to what patients have come to expect in other areas of their lives.

A successful strategy includes aggressive cost-management. You must be able to effectively meet and exceed customer needs while reinvesting in your organization.

In the healthcare realm, cost is the number one issue facing policy makers, employers, families and individuals. To become part of the solution — to make healthcare more affordable — we are compelled to reduce our cost of providing care.

A successful strategy ensures engagement and alignment across the organization. A successful strategy does not create silos, and it ensures everyone is pulling in the same direction. This can be challenging for large organizations spread across vast geographic areas.

Baylor Scott & White serves three distinct markets: Dallas-Fort Worth, Central Texas and Austin-Round Rock. It’s important to create an overarching strategy that’s rooted in your mission and is more alike than different across markets and then execute on specific tactics that are reflective of individual market dynamics.

A successful strategy holds the organization accountable for achievement. Articulate what success looks like for your organization and have a plan to measure it. Identify the key metrics that will track progress and then hold yourselves accountable for achievement of those goals.

A successful strategy has built-in flexibility. Develop something that allows you to be as nimble as possible. This is especially crucial in the healthcare industry, where things are changing quickly.

The strategy should be data-driven, based on analysis of the environment and the best information you have at the time, and should allow you to pivot rapidly when the environment changes.

A successful strategy helps employees fulfill their purpose. Your strategy should excite your workforce and make your employees want to come to work every day. Many work in healthcare because it’s a calling, and you have to promote and fulfill that.

Your people are your greatest asset.

At the same time, the strategy should allow you to streamline some of the complicated processes that frustrate employees and allow you to remain financially strong so you can reinvest in your people. They’re your greatest asset.

At Baylor Scott & White, we’re working hard to develop and finalize our strategy. Something important we will keep top of mind along the way — our why.

Great organizations never forget why they exist and why they make the choices that they do, even when business as usual gets turned on its head. We exist to advance our Christian ministry of healing, and we are choosing to be one of the systems that leads the way in making healthcare higher quality, safer, easier to use and less costly in the future.

About the Author

LaVone Arthur is the Chief Strategy Officer for Baylor Scott & White Health and has been part of the Baylor Scott & White team for more than 30 years. She most recently served as the System’s Chief Integration Officer, where she leveraged her management engineering and finance skills to shape the organization’s integrated strategy and partner relationships. She also led the successful achievement of merger-related synergies when Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare joined forces. LaVone is now overseeing the finalization, implementation and execution of the new enterprise strategy; and she continues her role in partnership management for the System.

LaVone has a B.S., Health Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an M.B.A., Health Services Management from the University of Dallas. She is married to Jack, and they have one daughter — Caroline.

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