We need not be afraid of the future, for the future will be in our own hands.
—Thomas E. Dewey
Your SHM board recently spent some time on the most comprehensive strategic planning that we have undertaken. Our last strategic planning meeting was almost three years ago. It is reassuring to review those minutes and see that we have accomplished a number of things that we set out to do. We have:
- Enhanced our chapters by making more resources and staff assistance available to them;
- Expanded our leadership training offerings;
- Established relationships with other organizations, such as the American Hospital Association, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and many others; and
- Explored a credential for the hospitalist that distinguishes our work from other practitioners.
Planning to Plan
In these exciting times, however, we decided it was important to stop and take stock to either confirm that we are on the right track or adjust our direction. To prepare for the meeting, we hired an outside facilitator. We invited all board members and our staff from Philadelphia. Our staff has grown from several people to more than 20. They are a diverse group with a tremendous amount of talent. Their perspective and input remain crucial to our success.
We included some of our key committee chairs as well. These individuals have regular contact with other agencies, our members, and their employees. We surveyed our membership and hospitalist leaders to determine their perspective on the dilemmas that they face. We interviewed 13 “futurists” to obtain their opinions about key trends that will affect hospitalists, including:
- The current environment for hospitalists;
- The implications of future trends in patient populations;
- The regulatory and political environment;
- The competitive forces; and
- Advancements in science, technology, and pharmaceuticals.
Bang for the Buck
The SHM board, when surveyed, expressed a strong interest in better understanding SHM’s customer groups, what they value, and what we can offer to them. We conduct many activities and support many projects through our staff, our volunteer leadership, and our members. We need to know if we are spending our resources in a way that optimizes our impact on our members and our field. Each participant spent two to three hours reviewing materials in preparation for the meeting.
When we gathered for two days, our facilitator worked us hard. We began by reviewing what we are doing and checking that against the needs and directions identified by our members and others. We then attempted to prioritize new initiatives so that we could focus on “bang for the buck.”
As we continued the process of refining our findings and designing our action plans, a few things become apparent. Among them:
- There is and will continue to be a shortage of qualified hospitalists;
- The demands of an aging population, in conjunction with the expectations of healthcare givers, will be a source of pressure;
- It will take more time to deliver care to our incoming group of patients than it did for their grandparents;
- The technology and options that are available continue to expand, as does the need to stay abreast of ongoing changes; and
- There will be more medical information to absorb and more to communicate and organize.