Strategic Planning: A Road Less Traveled Leads to Enlightenment

A little over a year ago, Bebe said to me, “We need to take Doctors Care through strategic planning to address capacity issues and potential changes impacting the organization in light of health care reform” – or something to that effect. The timing was perfect – health reform had necessitated many positive changes that impacted our patient population. Like other safety net organizations, we were scrambling to keep up. Creating opportunities for disadvantaged individuals to now have health coverage was a great first step. However, much work was needed, and remains today, to ensure this marginalized population also has access to necessary health care.

I took a deep breath, and thus began a rigorous process that started with applying to Caring for Colorado’s Safety Net Initiative program for organizations to “achieve their mission, evolve, and sustain themselves over time”. The awarded grant led to the beginning of a robust strategic planning process – be careful what you wish for!

Our first decision was a biggie. After interviewing a variety of consultants, we intentionally chose one we felt would challenge the organization in potentially uncomfortable fashion. And we were correct. Our consultants led the board and staff leadership through a process that resulted in great insight into areas of improvement needed for Doctors Care – some expected, and others unexpected. We anticipated the process would lead us towards identifying clinic and programmatic strengths and weaknesses, and help define new directions for the organization to pursue. Indeed, this was an outcome. However, it also led to a discovery of more fundamental cracks that needed to be addressed prior to implementing change. For example: the need to improve board capacity and engagement, establishing roles and alignment of the leadership team, and driving accountability throughout the organization.

It wasn’t easy, but “easy” is rarely the way things roll with Doctors Care. Much of the preliminary work that was identified has now been done. The board has defined roles and responsibilities, term limits and succession planning. New committees have been formed that are actively pursuing much of the work recommended in the Strategic Planning Implementation Plan. Doctors Care staff leadership has prioritized responsibilities and identified actions and expected timeframes. Weekly meetings are held to monitor progress, reinforce accountability and increase communication among department heads. An offsite organizational meeting for all staff was held June 18, 2015 to present the vision, mission and strategies for Doctors Care as we move forward.

With a stronger foundation in place, Doctors Care is ready to enter Phase Two – implementing objectives that address capacity, enhance unification of care and facilitate financial sustainability. That work has been identified, and thanks to funding from Caring for Colorado again, we are poised and ready to put the plan into action. Will there be more challenges ahead? Of course, but tackling challenges is what we do best. Let the fun begin.

Barb Hanson, Development/Marketing Director

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