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Kevin C. "Casey" Nolan

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A strategic plan is essential for setting the course for the CV service line. It covers key areas such as goals, revenue projections, resource allocation, and more.

However, before getting into specifics, take a step back and consider a few methods that can help strengthen a strategic plan.

Kevin C. “Casey” Nolan, Managing Director of Navigant Consulting, lays out 5 key considerations that can help the process be successful from the start.

“The strategic plan is probably one of the most important activities that a cardiovascular service line director can perform.”

-Kevin C. “Casey” Nolan
Managing Director
Navigant Consulting Inc.

1: Survey your community

It is essential that the strategic plan is grounded in a deep knowledge of the community you serve. Most CV service line leaders are good at knowing what payment sources are in what zip codes; however, it is important to look much deeper than that.

Go into the community, sit in the offices of local businesses, and ask what they are planning.

Who is self-insured? What are their plans for insurance moving forward? Are their plans high-deductible? Are they looking at wellness and screening plans?
This is foundational knowledge to begin crafting a strategic plan. In addition to knowledge-sharing, it also grows opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships, positively impacts your business, and improves your CV service line’s ability to serve the community.
2: Anticipate competition

According to Casey, “When it comes to the cardiovascular service line, for every action there is a much larger reaction from your competition.”

Many CV service line leaders build their strategic plans “in a vacuum” and fail to account for the strategies, actions, and efforts that their competition is taking. Having the competition top-of-mind will help build the strongest plan possible.

Be sure to identify, assess, and evaluate your competition. What are their strengths? Where are they investing? How will they react to the initiatives being planned in your strategic plan?

This is an area that many CV service line leaders fail to consider, and it is an important part of building a successful plan.

“The competition is not just going to sit back and say, ‘Oh, go ahead and eat my lunch.’ There’s going to be a competitive reaction.”

-Kevin C. “Casey” Nolan
Managing Director
Navigant Consulting Inc.

Red Team Exercise

The military uses a method referred to as a “Red Team Exercise” to prepare. This is an invaluable exercise for thinking like the competition, anticipating their plans, and being ready for them. Consider conducting a similar exercise with staff when exploring effective ways to anticipate competitive threats.

1st Gather key staff members and ask them to pretend that they work for the competition; 2nd Ask them to  brainstorm ideas for new programs and strategies; 3rd Ask them how they would react to the initiatives being proposed in your strategic plan
3: Engage the CV service line staff
Engage the CV service line staff

“Where there is ownership, there is execution.”

Kevin C. “Casey” Nolan
Managing Director
Navigant Consulting Inc.

A strategic plan should not be created in isolation. Leaders should actively involve staff in the process. Staff members have exposure to the day-to-day operations of the business and may have keen insight and ideas on how to strategically advance the service line. This exposure means that they can make your plan much stronger.

There are many ways to engage staff. Conduct interviews, hold focus groups, host town hall meetings, or assemble task forces. No matter what form of engagement is taken, staff should have an active role in identifying strategies, reviewing barriers, and developing solutions to overcome challenges.

Staff will play a critical role in executing the strategic plan—so ownership is essential. Engage the team to create a CV service line vision that truly inspires them to execute the plan as a team.

4: Embrace disruption

Reality is, there is always disruption ahead. A winning strategy needs to focus on identifying potential disruptive factors and determining what the strategic responses are going to be. Scenario planning is an outstanding exercise that can help prepare a CV service line for the future. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What if we lose key staff members?
  • How will appropriate-use criteria change?
  • Even if bundled payments are not moving forward, how do we evolve into a value-based care model?
  • How can our competition undermine us?

Develop a response plan based on the scenarios that make sense for your organization—and make that preparation part of the actions you take today.

The result is that when disruption hits, an action plan is ready for implementation. It puts your CV service line ahead of the competition and helps you prepare for today’s changing healthcare environment.

5: Remove items from your agenda

“Strategy is choosing what NOT to do.”

-Kevin “Casey” Nolan
Managing Director
Navigant Consulting Inc.

“Healthcare organizations are great at adding initiatives to their agenda,” says Casey, “but they never remove anything.”

Long lists of items to address are a problem that weighs down strategic plans. When the agenda is too long, it is hard to focus on what truly needs to happen. “The risk is that every initiative feels like the flavor of the month and no one gets invested in any of them,” warns Casey.

A better plan has fewer, more impactful items.

Time well spent

Building a strategic plan is an essential part of being a successful CV service line leader. Always remember, a strong strategic plan takes time, but with these 5 considerations it can help expedite the process and chart a course of success for the future.

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.”

-Abraham Lincoln



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