Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Strategic Thinking at the Jewish Healthcare Foundation

I was caught off guard when a guest speaker from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) flat out said that her organization does not make strategic plans. Of course I was shocked because two days prior to her talk in one of my courses, we discussed the importance and process of Strategic Planning in healthcare organizations, hospitals to be specific. We talked about the arduous process that some organizations undergo to create 2-5 year strategic plans. At this point in the presentation, I was confused but also curious to know how such an influential and impactful organization like JHF continue to accomplish some of the impossible without a bit of planning. When I asked her to elaborate on her comment, she went on to say that the JHF thinks strategically. That is when I had a sigh of relief.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation is a Pittsburgh based non-for-profit research, education, grant making and program management organization that partners with over 18 different organizations locally and through the US to fulfill their mission. The foundation managed a total of 24 programs in 2013 alone. Most of these program including the Patient Centered Practice Transformation, HPV Vaccination Initiative and Closure entails a number of projects and initiatives that are undertaken based on the current needs of the community. The Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s is timely anticipation and response to the health challenges that communities face is what makes them extremely impressive and effective. The foundation currently has 12 previous programs that may or may not be revived in 2015 based on community health assessments. Operation KidShot is an important example that might need to be reimplemented in response to the low childhood vaccination rates healthcare providers are observing across the country. The public health program was created by JHF, United Way and the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh in 1992 to prevent cases of childhood measles from spreading in Pittsburgh after an outbreak in Philadelphia. Operation KidShot was extremely successful and immunized close to 6,000 children.

The authors of Your Strategy Needs a Strategy underscored the importance of strategic thinking in many organizations and more importantly how the industry environment influences an organization’s strategic style. Although health care from a provider and services perspective should adapt a visionary style of strategy, foundations like JHF must employ a shaping strategic style because of their autonomy and the unpredictable nature of diseases and illness.

The foundation’s mission to “advance the quality of clinical care and health of populations…promoting safety, best practice and efficiency at the front line of care, and building a workforce to sustain this” cannot be accomplished using a classical or a visionary strategic style. The Jewish Healthcare Foundation’s shaping strategic thinking style enables them to be proactive in gaining new partnerships, developing relevant programs and capturing grant opportunities as they present themselves. Additionally, their flexibility allows them to set trends and establish standards among healthcare foundations. 


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