Healthcare Management

By Kieran Walshe; Judith Smith | Go to book overview

11 Healthcare system strategy
and planning

Neil Goodwin


Introduction

This chapter explores health service planning and strategy in the context of future healthcare policy and organisation. The term 'strategy' is from the Greek strategos, which means 'general'. In the Greek city-states, the military general was responsible for formulating and implementing a plan for bringing the legislature's policy decisions to fruition. The terms 'strategy' and 'planning' are often used interchangeably, and grand plans can be viewed as strategies and vice versa. But the terms 'policy', 'strategy' and 'resources' have quite different meanings. Policy is the goals and objectives of a government, or of an organisation or of services provided by an organisation. Strategy and plans determine how those goals and objectives are to be implemented using resources such as capital, revenue, leadership capacity, organisational structures and the workforce. Resources are sometimes confused with tactics but both are related to how strategy is achieved. Tactics refers to the 'know-how' of implementation, meaning the decisions and actions needed for successful implementation; whereas resources are the strategy's 'with-what' of implementation (Davies 2000).

Strategies and plans can be formulated at different levels – government, interorganisational partnership or network, organisation, service and department. Organisations will often refer to their 'corporate strategy' meaning strategy that is used to achieve corporate-level policy goals and objectives. Although, at a simple level, strategy is a design or plan for how policy is to be achieved, 'almost no consensus exists about what corporate strategy is, much less how a company should formulate it' (Porter 1987). It is therefore not surprising that the concept of strategy can be viewed in a number of different ways. Having said that strategy and planning are interchangeable terms, defining strategy solely as a plan is rarely sufficient because the implementation of strategy is equally important as its content. In that sense, strategy becomes a pattern in a stream of actions, meaning strategy is consistency of behaviour by the organisation and its leaders. Strategy can also be a position, specifically a means of locating an

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