SWOT Analysis for Healthcare Provider

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SWOT Analysis Paper

Abstract

The SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is an important part of the strategic planning process and should be reviewed on an ongoing basis (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). The SWOT analysis backs up the business plan that serves as a map for employees to seek guidance on how to direct the organization (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). Information gathered through a SWOT analysis includes the goals, objectives, and strategies of the business and should be done at a minimum of an annual basis (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the SWOT analysis for Nebraska Medicine Bellevue, how the results can be applied to the organization and how the healthcare administrator can be affected.

Introduction

Healthcare organizations have been under increasing pressure over the years to offer safer services more efficiently and more cost-effectively while protecting patient privacy and maintain compliance with ever-changing laws (Helms, Moore & Ahmadi, 2008). The SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is an important part of the strategic planning process and should be reviewed on an ongoing basis (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). The SWOT analysis backs up the business plan that serves as a map for employees to seek guidance on how to direct the organization (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). Information gathered through a SWOT analysis includes the goals, objectives, and strategies of the business and should be done at a minimum of an annual basis (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). A major advantage of the SWOT process is that it allows an organization to be proactive rather than reactive in its strategic plan (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). SWOT analysis involves a scan of the surrounding environment, both internally and externally to manage organizational change and set realistic goals for the future of the organization (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). The purpose of this paper is to discuss the SWOT analysis for Nebraska Medicine Bellevue, how the results can be applied to the organization and how the healthcare administrator can be affected.

Strengths & Weaknesses

When the strategic planning team performs a SWOT analysis, the internal review requires them to provide an honest analysis of the organization’s capabilities, resources, and abilities (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). In this process, it is very important to honestly and accurately look at the good, bad and awful and determine how to make the best out of it (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). This internal analysis considers a full-view aspect from employees, consultants, customers and competitors (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). Strengths are the aspects of the company that offers its competitive advantage while weaknesses can put the organization at a disadvantage with its competitors if they cannot be adequately corrected (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011).

Strengths

Nebraska Medicine Bellevue is a community hospital that is part of a larger conglomerate Nebraska Medicine-Nebraska Medical Center that is a well-recognized healthcare entity in the state with a long track record and history of research-backed healthcare. The healthcare entity provides healthcare to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status or religious preference. Nebraska Medicine Bellevue is a community hospital that is part of a larger conglomerate Nebraska Medicine (which includes entities such as the University of Nebraska Medical Center and The Nebraska Medical Center among others) that is a well-recognized healthcare entity in the state with a long track record and history of research-backed healthcare. The healthcare entity provides healthcare to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status or religious preference. The shared resources of Nebraska Medicine allows the organization to have great financial stability and the leadership has proven to be fiscally responsible in comparison to its greatest competitor Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) as it makes conscious marketing decisions that serve the community rather than just their pocketbook which keeps the community coming back for more care.

One of the primary concerns of healthcare professionals and organizations is to reduce patient harm and improve the quality of care given (Helms et al., 2008). The role of information technology (IT) has helped Nebraska Medicine reach this goal, but the organization continues to strive for better. An adequate electronic health record (EHR) can help providers make decisions regarding their patient’s care by providing a comprehensive background of information on each patient in a timely manner (Helms et al., 2008). In addition, patient safety is improved through IT by using barcode scanners for medication administration, computer order entry for providers (which reduces errors caused by the inability to read doctor handwriting), and secure electronic transfer of information between healthcare organizations to ensure continuity of care and reductions in tests and labs (Helms et al., 2008). Nebraska Medicine was one of few organizations to reach level 7 with their EHR (EPIC) for HIT standards and they participate in the sharing of health records with other participating organizations to help reduce patient costs. They are continuously working towards better processes and operations through the use of six sigma black belts, quality leads, and frontline staff who participate in quality endeavors within their own units. The organization also uses Lean principles in its supply processes by using the 2 bin kan-ban system and infrared systems to track supplies which can also save money. The majority of the time, the organization stays one step ahead of their competitor in innovative processes.

Weaknesses

 Because Nebraska Medicine Bellevue is a community hospital, it has limitations on services provided. For example, heart caths and various lower invasive procedures can be done there, but major surgeries such as CABG and thoracotomies have to be done at the larger campus downtown. The growth in patients becoming insured as a result of the Affordable Care Act as well as natural business growth for Nebraska Medicine Bellevue has sometimes meant crippling staff to patient ratios which have largely affected hiring efforts in recent years. Revolving changes in leadership, transactional leadership and crippling staff to patient ratios have worn on employee morale for several years and, to some extent, has affected some employees’ commitment to the organization. Top executive management has been seen many times to be here today and gone tomorrow without any explanation to those at the frontlines which can be scary. It affects how individuals seek management and leadership roles if they are seen as fragile. There needs to be more consistency in leadership and a program in place to facilitate it as CHI does. CHI has a fellowship program to train leaders, whereas Nebraska Medicine does not.

Opportunities & Threats

The external analysis identifies potential opportunities and threats that are typically attributed to politics, the economy, legislative changes, industry trends, competition and more (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). In this process, it is important to recognize current and future threats (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). Opportunities are recognized as areas where a company can increase its profitability and threats are often from external forces that can cause economic stress to the organization (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011). It is extremely important for an organization to keep its initiatives limited to a few at any one time in the effort to choose the most successful strategies to address them (Simoneaux & Stroud, 2011).

Since Nebraska Medicine Bellevue was developed in 2010, it has experienced its share of fluctuations in provider service lines. In order to maintain or improve patient census and fiscal growth of the organization, it would be beneficial to see a variety of service lines that could offer more assistance to nurses and patients alike. For example, due to the increase in individuals with diabetes not only worldwide, but regionally, an endocrine specialty at Bellevue would be great to have for better treatment and observation of the ill diabetic patients. The Nebraska Medical Center has this service available to inpatients, but not at Bellevue which can potentially mean inadequate control of blood sugars and less optimal outcomes. In addition, other specialties such as plastic surgery (that was short lived at Bellevue due to a lack of 24/7 hospitalist) brought in patients that required mastectomy (pre and post cancer treatment). Since that service left, Bellevue acquired a hospitalist group, so finding another plastic surgeon would be great. There is a multitude of service lines that can benefit patients at Bellevue and it is going to require the executive leaders to reach out to providers to make this happen. Understandably, some services can be shared with Nebraska Medical Center, but for more urgent needs or patient-centered needs, the administration needs to look at what the elderly population requires and the other patient demographics that are seen regularly to make decisions on specialties to include.

Gamm, Rogers, and Work, (1998) say that the improvement of community health tends to be a key interest in many healthcare organizations. It is also being viewed as a necessity for healthcare organizations to be accountable for the community’s health (Gamm et al., 1998). The aging population (65 years and older), young (18 and under) and Hispanic groups are becoming the key demographics that need extra support in the region. The elderly are facing more chronic conditions, the young face developmental challenges (such as emotional and psychological issues i.e.: depression, drugs, criminal trouble, etc), and Hispanics are largely underinsured. All of these individuals could benefit from education regarding these issues by providers on their health and wellness. Sometimes this requires partnerships with other entities to carry out this mission (Gamm et al., 1998). This partnership can be where an organization is dominant over others in the effort or they can share leadership responsibilities (Gamm et al., 1998).Nebraska Medicine Bellevue should not only have a limited number of classes given by healthcare providers to help educate the community, but they should develop a part of the business to do more for public health. This includes more opportunities for telehealth. Nebraska Medicine Bellevue could either work with the local health and human services agency, UNMC, community action programs and more to reach more of the underserved population. It is these efforts that can help Nebraska Medicine Bellevue get ahead of the public health issues that are affecting the surrounding communities.

Threats

Healthcare organizations traditionally have hierarchical management structures that allow more dominance of medical providers and more suppressive involvement of nurses and other clinical health professionals (Sang, Goh, Muhammad Badrull & Owee, 2016). Transactional leadership has shown to be one of the biggest factors in high nurse staffing turnover rates (Sang et al., 2016). Revolving nurse turnover rates can mean increased expenses for the organization, which is a potential threat to Nebraska Medicine Bellevue. Furthermore, transformational leadership has been shown to improve employee performance, trust, and commitment in their everyday work (Sang et al., 2016). Moreover, employees under this management style perceive greater organizational support and stronger relationships with management as well as job satisfaction as a result of an increased sense of meaning and purpose in the organization’s mission (Sang et al., 2016).

Nebraska Medicine as an entire organization really seems to push this endeavor to have transformational leadership by encouraging nurses to take part in various councils and committees that drive some of the mission of the organization. Before Bellevue Medical Center was acquired by Nebraska Medicine, these councils took place on the premises and employees felt a great deal of ownership for their participation in these councils. However, since the acquisition took place, employees at Bellevue have had to go to the main campus downtown to take part in an “organization-wide” version of these councils which has largely taken away autonomy and ownership that employees once enjoyed and felt empowered by. The inconvenience of having to go to the main campus to take part in the meetings is only worsened by the fact that issues at Bellevue aren’t addressed due to the organization’s behavior that projects the perception on employees that because it is smaller, it isn’t as important. This alone has been a huge factor in a lack of commitment amongst employees. Secondly, another issue is that management that has been placed in their positions at Bellevue aren’t leading with the transformational leadership that it wants to project and instead with the transactional style. Experienced staff that was once autonomous, innovative, critical thinkers, and were proud to work there were suddenly leaving in droves when a particular manager stepped in and managed the units by fear. As a result, this puts further stress and pressure on remaining staff to care for patients during peak ill seasons and created a poor reputation in the community with other experienced nurses. Staff felt unheard, uncared for, underrepresented, and dismissed and those are terrible feelings to have when they are expected to carry out the mission, vision, and values of the organization that they work for. The only nurses that were being employed for some time were new graduates, which in itself can be unsafe if they begin to represent the majority of nursing staff due to lack of experience.

Changes in legislation in regards to healthcare reimbursement or patient care can create major changes in operations. With more patients gaining insurance whether private or government funded, the increasing demands by the population can create challenges if space and resources are a commodity. It can also mean more money spent on information technology. Organizations must be able to look ahead and meet the needs as they come, which requires fiscal responsibility. If healthcare reform continues to change as it already has to cover more Americans than ever with challenges to reimbursement, the organization will have to continue to be more creative and innovative to provide these services at less cost to the patient.

What Do the Results Mean for the Organization and What Does it Mean to the Administrator?

The organization needs to do what’s necessary to find leadership that effectively utilizes transformational leadership as it was meant to be used and not just cherry-pick certain elements of it. In addition, attracting and retaining new talent (nurses and providers) by keeping pay and benefits competitive with outside organizations and improving the leadership reputation is important to the improvement of employee morale and commitment to the organization’s mission. Increasing service lines that are applicable to the location’s demographics and resources will require the involvement of leadership to negotiate with providers.  Healthcare leaders at Bellevue need to look for opportunities to partner with other leaders or organizations to offer more education and care to the public. Utilizing providers as community educators, new graduates as public health ambassadors during fellowships and nurses as participants in public health fairs is beneficial to the marketability of the hospital.

 

References

  • Gamm, L, Rogers, J., & Work, F. (1998). Advancing community health through community health partnerships / practitioner response. Journal of Healthcare Management, 43(1), 51-66.
  • Helms, M., Moore, R., & Ahmadi, M. (2008). Information technology (IT) and the healthcare industry: A SWOT analysis. International Journal of Healthcare Information Systems and Informatics, 3(1), 75-92.
  • Sang, L., Goh, C., Muhammad Badrull, H., & Owee, K. (2016). Transformational leadership, empowerment, and job satisfaction: The mediating role of employee empowerment. Human Resources for Health, 14.
  • Simoneaux, S. L., & Stroud, C. L. (2011). Business best practices: SWOT analysis: The annual check-up for a business. Journal of Pension Benefits, 18(3), 75-78.

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