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Strategic planning in a small community health care setting Hatlevik, Norman M.


This study provides an overview of the strategic planning process and presents the hypothesis that strategic planning is not only applicable to a small, community health setting but essential. The paper discusses the present situation which hospitals, especially small community hospitals, find themselves in and attempts to determine if the strategic planning process can offer advocacy prescriptions and a format for survival. It is aimed a encouraging a practical interest in the theoretical strategic planning process. While this is not a "model-building" exercise, the issues discussed are of concern to both the theory builder and the practitioner. An attempt is made to go beyond the existing literature on strategic planning to a discussion of the intrinsic, indirect or "invisible" factors peculiar to the process and to hospitals, factors which are critical and require the attention of boards and administrators. While the study attempts to simplify the strategic planning process, the additional discussion and emphasis on these "indirect" factors may appear to make the attempted transition from theory to practice more foreboding a process than it is. This study is developed by way of a literature review and case study analysis. The Case Study describes how one small community hospital became concerned about their capabilities of dealing with the political and economic forces that would affect the future of their facility and how they developed a strategic planning approach designed to ensure the survival of their community organization. The dominant role for both the Board and Administration became one of strategic planners. Part One provides an overview of the health care system and the current issues that are confronting the system. Part Two briefly describes the hospital industry and discusses the complexity of hospitals. Part Three describes the characteristics of small community hospitals. Part Four discusses the "state of the art" of planning in the hospital industry. Part Five provides a definition of strategic planning and describes special considerations. The reader is taken through the strategic planning process in a step-by-step manner. It is in this section during discussion of the roles of the main players that the many "invisible" factors are illuminated. Part Seven presents the Case Study and attempts to apply theory to practice. Part Eight provides concluding comments on the application of the strategic planning process in a small, community hospital. The main hypothesis of this study is that theoretical strategic planning is indeed applicable and implementable in a small, community health care setting. It was proposed and found that theoretical strategic planning can and does allow an organization to predict and influence its future.

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