Just like another organizations, health care organizations require good strategic planning can enable them rem to in relevant in their ever changing and turbulent environment. It is thus obvious, that any health care organization requires competent strategic and program planning process. However, K4 Organization (2008) notes that such objectives can never be achieved without provision for effective communication between various stakeholders in the healthcare system of any organization. This write up examines the roles of communication in the strategic and program planning process as applicable to any health care organizations.
The first step in developing an organizational strategic plan is normally the formulation of the organizational strategy. At this level, there is a need for the stakeholders to be involved in examining their mission and vision after which a plan is developed to enable the achievement of the goals. Effective communication is required in conveying the intended purpose of the organization, its mission, vision, goals and objectives and how all these will be beneficial to all its stakeholders. For instance, any health care organization must engage all its stakeholders in coming up with a basic philosophy that address the healthcare needs of the community within which it operates and a strategy how to meet these needs.
The second step is the assessment of the environment in which the health care organization is operating. Kinsella (2005), notes that for the better understanding of the environment, it is important for all the stakeholders to be involved. This way an organization is also able to gain insight into the trends and therefore possible changes that may occur in future. Equally, through communication, those who have been in the field for a long time are able to help others understand the opportunities, threats, weakness, and strengths of the organization in relation to its rivals.
Thirdly, with a proper understanding of the environment, the strategic planners proceed to come up with goals and objectives of their organization. At this stage, all the stakeholders, especially the employees, must be encouraged to communicate the steps through which they believe the plans should be implemented. Communication, thus, helps the stakeholders in coming up with the various measurable and relevant outcomes of all the set objectives, while at the same time allocating responsibilities to the various stakeholders in the implementation of the plan. This will make the individual stakeholders to be committed to the accomplishment of the resulting plans (Kinsella, 2005).
The fourth step of strategic and program planning which requires the high level of coordination and therefore communication is the implementation step. At this point, those who are to be involved in the implementation of a health care plan must be set free to discuss the kind of resources they will need during the implementation. The management, in its turn, also must communicate how it is going to ensure that the organizational structure is not an impediment to the implementation process (Kinsella, 2005).
The last stage in the organizational strategic and program planning process involves coming up with the ways in which the performance, as well as the effectiveness of the organization in implementing the plan, will be evaluated and monitored. Even at this level, the stakeholders must also be allowed to debate and agree on the indicators to be used in the evaluation. Moreover, any change in the initial strategy set out in the plan must be conveyed all the stakeholders to enable them adjust accordingly (Kinsella, 2005).
Challenges Associated with Communication in the Process and Recommendations
A study conducted by Dingley et al. (2011), identified a number of challenges that are faced by any organization which intends to succeed in its strategic and program planning process through communication. First, their study revealed that healthcare organizations are unpredictable and complex. That is, they bring together professionals from a good number of disciplines and those, whose services are only required at specific times. This means that they may not be present within the organization at all times. Such professionals are also, in most cases, located far apart, making it hard for them to interact regularly throughout the strategic planning process.
Secondly, Dingley et al. (2011) notes that care providers do have different views on the kind of services to be given to the patients depending on their various disciplines. This may add complexity to the process of consultations, as they will propose different activities which may be difficult to harmonize. Another challenge, which will arise, is how to create a free atmosphere for equal contribution by all the stakeholders. It arises due to the dominant of the hierarchical in most health care facilities. For example, other health care professionals may not interact freely with physicians. In addition, the kind of education and training offered to various health care professionals is very different resulting into different styles of communication (Dingley, et al. 2011). Finally, the curricula used in the training of most of these professionals put more emphasis on individual technical skills and not teamwork and effective communication skills.
In offering a remedy to these challenges, Dingley et al. (2011), notes the need for the various health organizations to integrate the various attributes considered critical to effective communication among their stakeholders. He identified them as including; shared coordination and the making of decisions, open communication, and shared responsibilities during the planning and solving of problems.
It is thus clear that communication is necessary for any health care organization to be able to come up with plans which can be internalized and acceptable to all its stakeholders. The commitment of the stakeholders to the goals, objectives, mission, and vision of the organization allows them to strive and realize the high level of achievements in their competitive environment. Communication is, therefore, a vital constituent in the strategic and program planning process that cannot be ignored by any health organization.