A Closer Look at Strategic Planning

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Effective strategic planning is paramount for successful pharmacy operations. Strategic planning encompasses business planning, but it also considers many of the other things such as budgeting, assessing technology, evaluation of workforce, considerations of quality control, outcomes evaluation, analysis of current and potential health policy implications, and so on.

Elsasser et al described the implementation of a transformational plan of care at a Veterans Administration (VA) medical center. VA centers provide a comprehensive set of hospital and ambulatory care services to qualified veterans and are known to be somewhat aggressive and experimental in care, even if budgets might be tight. Pharmacists have often enjoyed a wider scope of practice in VA medical centers. This report is good for Tip readers, as it goes through considerable length in describing the planning process, itself. This VA held a strategic planning retreat to develop goals and objectives for the next fiscal year. The retreat was facilitated through use of principles of lean methodology, including “A3 problem solving,” (a type of structured CQI approach) and resulted in development of a transformational plan of care (TPOC). After identifying process improvement projects with the highest value-adding potential, retreat participants prioritized those projects in accordance with targeted value streams encompassing 5 areas of pharmacy operations: United States Pharmacopeia chapter 800 compliance, standard work, physical space, technology, and people. Upon retreat completion, tasks were assigned to pharmacy service managers according to their respective areas of expertise. The status of each project and the projects’ impact on both pharmacy and facility outcome measures were continually assessed throughout the ensuring fiscal year. Continuous reevaluation of projects within each value stream allowed for accurate outcome tracking and creation of a pharmacy dashboard. In the months after implementation of the pharmacy service TPOC, improvements in a number of performance metrics were observed, such as an increase number of staff with lean training and  decreased rate of abandoned calls in the call center.

Pharmacy managers should become familiar with strategic planning, including its various derivations and mechanisms for carrying it out. The strategic plan will of course lay out a mission, goals, and performance metrics; however, it will also involve staff at all levels so that they provide keen insight from the “front line” and will inherently make them feel part of the process and facilitate further commitment with the pharmacy organization.

Additional information about Strategic Planning in Pharmacy Operations can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 4e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Elsasser EJ, White CA, Jones MR. Implementation of a transformational plan of care at a Veterans Administration medical center. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2018;75(17 Suppl 3):S72-S76.

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California


Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
about 2 years ago

Do you know to what extent your supervisor is engaged in strategic planning? Does the subject ever even come up?