A Powerful New Direction in Hospital Strategic Planning

Like any business, hospitals need strategic plans to chart their future. Rarely do they go smoothly, but with flexibility and agility, organizations can carefully navigate them. Jerry Darby, VP, Strategic Advisory Services at Covalus, shared his experiences and predictions for the space on Plan. Build. Equip.

Darby has 30 years of healthcare planning consulting experience. He started his career as a pharmacist working in retail and hospital pharmacies. An early challenge of helping a hospital regain its controlled substance license made him realize he wanted to be on the business side of the industry.

“Supporting hospitals in unique situations is interesting. I’ve worked with great people, and, as a consultant, you come into opportunities created by others,” Darby said.

Over the years, Darby has helped prominent hospitals like the Mayo Clinic and Mass General with planning. He explained the plan is just the first step. “You can create the best plan in the world, but with no way to implement it, it’s less likely to be successful.”

The process can be arduous and requires massive changes. “There are hard conversations, but flexibility must be part of the thing, because many things change, and you have to be able to adjust,” Darby added.

The most dramatic change for healthcare has been the pandemic. Darby recalled that some strategic plans had foresight. He mentioned transitioning from double patient rooms to single patient rooms, hospitals being more ICU ready, and other operational pieces.

Now, technology is where investment needs to go, including telehealth, remote monitoring, and ways to evaluate patients from a distance. Darby spoke about the next transition hurdle—being consumer-centric. “Hospitals need to orient around the consumer, and I think the pandemic is changing this and views on healthcare.”

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