One (new) direction

Seven Counties Services plans for the future.
By Gwen Cooper

It’s hard to accomplish anything without a plan. Whether you are training for a half marathon, following a recipe or running a business you must have a plan. According to Wikipedia, strategic planning is an organization’s process of defining its strategy, or direction and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy.

In our constantly changing world of healthcare, it is more important than ever to take a look at the here and now (what we are currently doing) and plan for the future.

It’s no secret that Seven Counties has had a challenging year. Kentucky implemented managed care in 2013, which resulted in a decrease in revenues of about 18 percent and increased our cost of billing by more than $1M; the 2015-2016 budget about to be passed by the General Assembly includes major cuts to our critical community care dollars, and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is just getting started.

We ask ourselves: What are we doing now that we must continue to do? What will we look like in the future? How can we continue to do more with less? Is the future one year away, three years or ten? What are we not doing now that we should or could be doing to help increase revenue and provide additional services?

Living, Fluid Documents
Strategic plans are living, fluid fluid documents. They provide an opportunity to evaluate, discuss, plan and implement while providing the framework to self-check and alter plans as the future unfolds.

Seven Counties is in the sixth month of an intensive strategic planning process. Often, there is much time and effort invested in writing the strategic plan with little time and effort invested in the implementation across all departments and divisions. Statistically between 70 to 80 percent of all plans fail. I am more than confident that ours will not.

One of the reasons is that we’ve assembled a stellar team led by qualified board members and staff to write a comprehensive plan. To date, this process has included a review of our mission and vision along with better defining our organizational mandates.

Concurrently, we spent time drilling down into each area of our multi-divisional organization to better understand the market value of every line of business. We’ve answered hard questions around the quality, competitiveness and sustainability of each service we offer.

Most importantly, we have involved our board and leadership group in conducting a broad SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) of Seven Counties. This information is currently being compared to an environmental survey to determine the most likely areas for success in the future.

Clearer Understanding of Service Delivery Model
The highlight for me, so far, has been the opportunity to learn about our service lines of business and to dissect them in a way that someone in external affairs would not normally have the opportunity to do.

This has given me a much clearer understanding of our service delivery model and has helped many of us in our discussions regarding what, in this delivery system is most critical and what we can change, improve or, in some cases, eliminate. It gives those of us who communicate our value and needs to the public a different way to talk about what we do and express our true impact
in our community.

Our anticipated completion date for our strategic plan is mid-May. This gives us time to discuss and refine before beginning implementation in the next fiscal year. We remain well aware that our strategic plan has many facets and is truly a living document that we will breathe life into for the next several years.

Gwen Cooper is vice president, external affairs of Seven Counties Services.