Planning is surely one of the most important things within healthcare - from the millions of decisions made by individual staff every day through to long term policy decisions.
Given the importance of planning in healthcare, it’s surprising how little focus and resource is spent on researching the effectiveness of today’s healthcare planning (nevermind imagining what healthcare planning in the future could look like)
So how good are we at planning with healthcare, in particular the NHS?
This entirely depends on who you ask, but what is clear are big differences at an individual level and also amounts stakeholder groups (Corporate (Policy makers, Executives, Finance, HR etc), Operational and Clinical). It would be very interesting to understand the Net Promoter Score (and a brave person to bet on it being positive!)
Let’s say the criteria for effective planning are:
- Data driven
- Designed to meet stakeholder requirements
- Tailored to the individual end user
Assessing organisations and systems against these criteria for the NHS would give mixed results.
I believe there is a consensus (particular amongst clinical and operational staff) that:
- It feels like there is too much planning in the NHS
- Targets and plans are often confused
- Too much top down planning (leaving some to think that local planning is not worth the effort as performance is assessed against the top down target / plan)
- It’s too slow
- It takes up too much resource
- It’s very siloed with disconnected plans for Finance, HR, Operations, Quality, Demand & Capacity
- It’s not supported by technology (leading to the default position of planning by Excel and PowerPoint)
What is certain is the impact of when planning goes wrong:
- Poor decisions are made
- Decision making is slow
- Decision making is centralised
- Innovation is stiﬂed
- Collaboration between professions is hindered
- It is much more difﬁcult to create a culture of quality and continuous improvement
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way and indeed there is a planning revolution underway across leading organisations across all sectors. Many successful organisations are already using data and technology to deliver real-time, data driven and collaborative planning to transform the way they make decisions.
Whilst a revolution in healthcare planning can’t be delivered without people, equally it cannot be delivered without technology. The future needs to be less about fragmented data living in thousands of disconnected Excel spreadsheets and more about:
- Planning as a team sport
- Planning driven by shared and trusted data
- Using artiﬁcial intelligence and machine learning to draw insight out of large and complex data
- Removing the silos between clinical, operational and corporate teams
- Continuous and real time planning
So how do we get there?
The ﬁrst way to answer this question is to be clear what won’t work and learning the reasons why most large scale changes fail.
What won’t work is:
- A centrally driven top-down programme
- A silver bullet approach based upon the false assumption that a one-size ﬁt all solution is needed
- A long-winded business case, design and implementation process
So what will work?
This is best summed up as THINK BIG START SMALL. What does this mean in real life?
- Building the call to action for a revolution for healthcare planning by conversations on the art of the possible with clinical, operational and corporate stakeholders
- Create a culture of innovation through proofs of concept and prototyping (working on particular problems which need solving now, getting fast results and scaling up later)
- Building a Centre of Excellence for Connected Healthcare Planning within teams, departments, organisations and systems (whatever works best remembering one size doesn’t ﬁt all)
When do we get started?
- Pre-Covid, the answer to this question needed to be as soon as possible (both to meet the challenges of individual organisations and accelerate the development of Integrated Care Systems)
- Post-Covid, the answer is now to meet the enormous challenge of recovery and tackling growing waiting lists in the new reality of constrained capacity
Mprove works with emergent systems to nurture effective connections with subject matter experts, enabling system-wide development supported by new technologies and insights. We offer a unique combination of workforce, commercial, digital and NHS expertise.
Want to learn more and start the connected health planning revolution?