Report: Strategic Planning for Rural Health Networks

March 2001
Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy

This report is part of a series of technical assistance reports produced under the Networking for Rural Health project, an initiative to strengthen the rural health care delivery system by fostering the development of rural health networks. For any organization to be successful, it must have a clear sense of its mission, vision and organizational values. In other words, laying out a careful strategic plan that articulates where an organization wants to go is a critical first step to getting there. Strategic planning is particularly important for broad, multi-member organizations such as rural health networks, which require individuals from various walks of life to come together voluntarily, balance many competing agendas and agree on a common goal. 

This report is intended as a guideline for approaching strategic planning in the context of a rural health network. It is a synthesis of information presented at several regional workshops conducted by the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy in 2000 as part of the Networking for Rural Health project. The workshops were designed to teach rural health care leaders how to determine and prioritize a network’s goals, identify the risks and rewards of the viable options, and decide and implement a course of action. 

This initiative is directed by the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy with funding through a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.