MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 29

mon t m e d s o c .c om

Operational Planning
Is A Must For Any
Thriving Practice
BY NICK HERNANDEZ, MBA, FACHE

P

hysicians are well aware of the
need for planning. Indeed, they
devise clinical plans on a daily
basis as they formulate the best way in
which to care for a patient. However,
when is the last time you spent time
working on operational planning for

your practice?
Many physicians reading this will be thinking, "Who has
the time for that?" And while that may be true, those practices
that do make the time or work with consultants to help them
through operational planning are the practices that are better
able to compete. There should be no argument on the value of
planning. Operational planning will keep your practice oriented
on objectives, despite the problems and requirements of the
present situation.
There are many types of planning that do (or should) take
place within a practice and at varying frequencies. For example,
capital planning is generally done annually while preparing
budgets, whereas marketing planning may be done quarterly
to coincide with various advertising timelines and community
events. Nonetheless, all planning should contain four basic
categories of information:
1. Desired outcome. This element of a plan includes the
purpose for achieving that outcome and often includes
a time by which the assignment must be accomplished.
Goals and objectives here may be either general or specific.
In a complex and difficult industry like healthcare, few
things are as important or as difficult as setting clear and
useful goals. This is a skill set requiring judgment and
vision. The reality is that, given the nature of today's
healthcare environment, we will often have to act with
unclear goals. Unclear goals are generally better than no
goals, and waiting for clear goals before acting can paralyze
your business.
2. Actions intended to achieve the desired outcome.
Most plans include several actions which are organized
in both time and space. These actions are usually tasks
assigned to secondary components. Depending on

circumstances, these tasks may be described in greater or
lesser detail over farther or nearer planning horizons.
3. Resources to be used. In order to execute actions, the
plan must describe the type, amount, and allocation of
resources. Furthermore, the plan must include the how,
when, and where those resources are to be provided.
Resource planning covers the staff assigned to different
tasks and other resources.
4. Control process. This element allows you to supervise
execution of the plan and includes necessary coordination
measures as well as some feedback mechanism to identify
shortcomings in the plan and make necessary adjustments.
It is a design for anticipating the need for change and
for making decisions during execution. In other words,
the plan itself should contain the means for changing
the plan. Some plans are less adjustable than others, but
nearly every plan requires some mechanism for making
adjustments. This is a component of plans which often
does not receive adequate consideration. Many plans stop
short of identifying the signals, conditions, and feedback
mechanisms that will indicate successful or dysfunctional
execution.
Diligent operational planning will allow you to see if at
some point your practice will encounter a problem. A solid
operational plan will allow you to proactively adjust to an
oncoming crisis, rather than face the crisis unexpectedly.
Where do you want your practice to go? How are you
going to get there? Every medical practice's strategy should
be distinctive. A qualified consultant brings a good planning
process which will move your practice toward greater coherence;
and greater coherence leads to added value.
Nick Hernandez, MBA, FACHE, is the CEO and founder of
ABISA, LLC, a consultancy specializing in strategic growth
initiatives for physician practices. He can be contacted at
nhernandez@abisallc.com.

M C M S P H Y S I C I A N 29 W I N T E R 2 0 1 7


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MCMS Physician Winter 2017

MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 1
MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 2
MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 3
MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 4
MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 5
MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 6
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MCMS Physician Winter 2017 - 32
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