Medical Center Barbour's Strategic Planning and Benchmarking

November 2011
National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center)

Medical Center Barbour (MCB) in Eufaula, Alabama, took part in a Strategic Planning and Benchmarking project as part of the Delta Rural Hospital Performance Improvement (RHPI) Program. Strategic planning is critical to any institutions' future in determining the future direction and success of their hospital. Planning sessions include a review of what is known or an environmental assessment, identification of critical issues, a review of mission and vision to ensure continued relevancy, the development of goals, objectives, and action plans, and a process to review progress and ensure accountability.

A framework for strategic planning is the Studer-Pillar Model. This Model is a foundation and framework used to set organizational goals and the evaluation process. Once the goals for each pillar are set for the organization as a whole, they are cascaded throughout, from the division level to department or unit level, to individual leader. The goal is to create a leadership structure through the use of evidence-based practices that drives bottom line results in the areas of Clinical Quality, Employee and Patient Satisfaction, Financial performance, Organizational Growth and Community Involvement.

In an interview with RHPI Project Staff Member, Rhonda Barcus, the CEO of MCB, Ralph Clark, discussed the project's outcomes and future direction.

Q: What recommendations from the consultation has your hospital put into place?

A: Our hospital established pillar statements and action items during the original consultation. However, our consultants predicted the project would take 1-3 years to complete and there were too many pillar statements to implement at the start. A few pieces we implemented in the beginning were to develop quality and customer service objectives and goals as well as set up monthly team meetings. We also made rapid personnel changes to get the right people in the right positions.

One year after the original consultation, we held a retreat to review accomplishments, set goals, define next steps and update the strategic plan. At this retreat, each team presented their accomplishments from the previous year which really helped us to re-energize. The teams had accomplished 80% of their goals and so we moved forward to set new priorities.

Q: Have you seen any changes in the increase of total revenue through enhancements of existing services and expansion of new services?

A: You have to realize that to see real outcomes it will take 1-3 years. It takes time to bring new specialties on board. We did bring cardiology in as a sub-specialty which has driven an increase in stress testing and other diagnostic testing.

Q: Are you better able to recruit and retain quality employees to meet the needs of the organization?

A: Our turnover rates are lower and we have been retaining clinical staff. We currently have a new emergency department director and have made some very positive changes in personnel.

Q: What outcomes have you seen as far as meeting or exceeding the expectations of your customers?

A: We have seen a huge change in customer services and have rolled customer service training in to our orientation program. We have also developed processes on how to deal with upset patients and how to provide great service while rounding on patients. Our Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHAPS) scores are up but not yet consistent.

Q: What are your next steps towards adopting your consultants' recommendations?

A: Our hospital is ready to move in to Lean in the next fiscal year.

The overall impact of the project:

  • Political and financial people are on board together; increased collaboration
  • Better understanding of each others' priorities
  • Better teamwork
  • Reputation in community has improved
  • Better understanding in community about services offered
  • Surgery stats are up
  • Patients are choosing Medical Center Barbour rather than going elsewhere
  • Better communication around the goals
  • Staff volunteered for team and people are doing whatever needs to be done
  • Silos have disappeared
  • Quality of clinical services has improved