MHA-FPX5010 MichelleSmith Assessment 2 Tows Matrix Analysis And Strategic Plan
TOWS Matrix Analysis and Strategic Plan
The TOWS Matrix is a strategic tool managers use to generate, select, compare, and implement business strategies. According to Capella University (2019), the TOWS matrix enables the attainment of overall organizational objectives and goals, such as increased profits, better efficiency, increased sales revenue, and enhanced brand values, among other benefits. Fundamentally, TOWS is derived from SWOT analysis, and both identify the internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats facing an organization.
However, a significant shortcoming of SWOT is that it does not show the relationship between the categories.
TOWS was nonetheless derived so that managers can use the organization’s internal strengths to take advantage of external opportunities and internal weaknesses while assessing the organization’s vulnerability to external threats. In TOWS, threats and opportunities are identified first before weaknesses and strengths (Ginter et al., 2018). TOWS enables the combination of SO, ST, WO, and WT, maximizing improvements and minimizing threats and weaknesses. This essay begins with completing a TOWS matrix for The University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC) before summarizing the findings and drafting a strategic plan containing an alternative strategy.
The UPMC organization is among the largest healthcare companies in the United States and is also considered one of the largest private employers in the country (Curtin, 2017). UPMC has changed its structure and size to meet its challenges and opportunities within the competitive US healthcare industry. An in-depth company evaluation reveals several internal and external factors that must be considered and addressed to guarantee the organization’s success. The following are some of those factors espoused under a TOWS matrix.
· UPMC faces the threat of price competition with walk-in clinics, which charge lower prices and affect the organization’s growth. The other threat UPMC faces is the volatility of healthcare insurance premium rates, which affects the patient’s ability to pay their healthcare bills. Lastly, the health insurance cost has recently been on a rising trend, equally affecting the affordability of healthcare for UPMC clients.
· One of the most critical external opportunities for UPMC is external growth by opening new branches. This can increase the business’ reach and output and create opportunities for partnerships with other organizations to enhance the value of its services to its customers or patients.
· The other opportunity UPMC is faced with is mobile health. Through mobile health, UPMC can achieve tremendous growth because it facilitates the acquisition of more customers, especially patients who are unable to travel or those who do not have enough support to attend their appointments.
· The last opportunity faced by UPMC is equipment upgrade. Upgrading its equipment, UPMC will increase growth because patients depend on the latest healthcare equipment to treat the latest forms of the disease. Equipment upgrades will not only increase the nurse’s and doctors’ confidence but also make the patients feel safer.
· One of the significant weaknesses facing UPMC is underpaid employees. Employees at UPMC have constantly complained of low pay, which demotivates and affects the team member’s workplace engagement, productivity, and professionalism.
· Another weakness that UPMC faces is the inability to sustain the continually increasing cost of healthcare (Curtin, 2017). the increasing cost of healthcare means that more patients cannot afford health services and will not seek treatment at UPMC. This contributes to rising cases of skipping doctor appointments and routine medical checks.
· UPMC is also facing a weakness with competition. The rising number of competitors means that the company must share revenues, patients, and employees with competitors
· One of the most prominent strengths of UPMC is its firm brand name. As per Ginter et al. (2018), the brand name is how the world perceives the organization and most successful companies have a powerful brand identity. UPMC has a strong brand name for providing equal job opportunities to all genders, age groups, and races. They are also known for their significant presence, with 115 surgery centers and 165 hospitals across northeastern states and Italy.
· The company also boasts of its technological advancement steered by its IT department. The company runs on software and databases created by its IT department, giving it a competitive advantage.
· Lastly, a major strength of the organization is good coordination among its employees, which helps deliver quality care. UPMC can provide adequate care through effective care coordination, making the patients feel safe and comfortable. The UPMC doctors are known for their intricate and outstanding work, especially in specialized surgery.
Strength Opportunities (SO)
UPMC could benefit from the SO strategy of identifying different ways to pursue the opportunities. UPMC can deliver service to more clients through its many facilities because the patients do not have to travel far for the services. Hence, UPMC can continue expanding to different areas while providing excellent client services. The other strength of the opportunity strategy for UPMC is its robust technology. UPMC can leverage its technology to step ahead of its competitors and thus gain a competitive advantage.
Weakness Opportunities (WO)
Identifying the WO strategy entails overcoming its weaknesses by turning them into opportunities. One of the weaknesses faced by UPMC is underpaid employees. Employees unsatisfied with their remuneration can lose their passion for the job because they feel unappreciated. A WO strategy for UPMC is ensuring its employees receive competitive salaries. This will decrease employee turnover and increase employee workplace engagement, improving the quality of services. Another WO strategy is to reduce negative reviews from employees. Increasing employees’ salaries will contribute to positive reviews and thus attract more experienced employees into the organization.
Strength Threats (ST)
The ST strategies entail identifying how to leverage strengths to reduce threats. UPMC’s presence in many locations across the state enables the organization to bring its services closer to the people. Because many patients experience transportation problems, getting services close to the people through many branches makes it easier for patients to access them. Another strength threat is technology. UPMC often updates its software, owing to continually advancing technology. This is a strength and a threat because some employees and clients are beginners and may not understand the best way to use the new technology.
Weaknesses Threats (WT)
The WT strategies help reduce or prevent the weaknesses that arise from external threats. One of the weakness threats facing UPMC is an increasing rate of health insurance premiums in the US. This is a weakness threat because increased premium rates imply that fewer patients can afford the services offered by HC, decreasing the number of services UPMC provides. Consequently, the revenue will reduce, rendering the organization unable to pay salaries or cover the overhead cost of offering its services. This will eventually become a weakness because patients cannot afford prescribed medication without medical insurance.
Increasing Global Presence
Ginter et al. (2018) defined strategic planning as an organizational activity that involves setting priorities, developing the organizational focus, and strengthening the organization’s operations to achieve specific goals. Despite the many challenges and obstacles UPMC faces, the company can maintain its strength by sustaining an excellent delivery of care to patients. One of the strategic plans that UPMC can adopt is expanding and building more facilities across the globe. By maintaining a wider footprint worldwide, UPMC can be guaranteed more revenue, which it can use to run its operations and scale up the quality of its services.
Before entering any market, UPMC should conduct due diligence to not blindly open new branches without evaluating the feasibility of operating there. UPMC should not venture into recent locations just because they have strong health products and services at hand because this might lead the organization into losing money. Instead, there are certain precautions that it must take, including evaluating whether the market is of sufficient size, assessing the regulatory environment, and determining whether it is different from that of the United States, as well as which adjustments to make if that is the case.
The other strategic approach to achieving global expansion is identifying strong local partners. UPMC must find the right organizations and individuals to partner with when entering new markets overseas. Once a decision has been made to move into a new country, UPMC should adopt a partnership strategy that can work across the board. This can be achieved by identifying the regional partners that suit specific needs, such as investors or banks. After securing financial capital, UPMC can shift its attention to operations by identifying a local team with relevant healthcare experience, strong leadership capabilities, and a culture of transparency that reflects what is available in the US.
UPMC might find it relatively easy to identify such partners in developed countries by contracting anyone with experience in international expansion. However, the process might be relatively challenging in developing countries due to most unknowns, so that UPMC might benefit most from a strong relationship with local partners.
There are many items involved in global expansion that UPMC must consider when implementing the global expansion strategy. These items include immigration, overseas hiring, and international payroll.
Setting up branches in a new country will require UPMC to move employees from one country to another, which comes with new rules, costs, and regulations. For example, if UPMC opens a new branch in Germany, the relocation process would be relatively straightforward because both the US and Germany have similar regulations, state-business relations, and shared language. However, setting up in China would be more complex regarding culture and regulations. For immigration purposes, UPMC must consider accommodation, living costs, moving time, a new workplace environment, and transport visas. While UPMC can handle these complexities by hiring more from overseas, a few ex-pats will be needed to help set up the new organization and ignite the organization’s culture overseas.
UPMC will need to consider overseas hiring as an alternative to relocation. The process of overseas hiring is critical because it determines whether the organization will have the kind of bespoke skills and knowledge in the foreign market that home employees are required to have. As such, UPMC will consider the following requirements for hiring. For example, it will need to focus on employee background screening to ensure the best talent is hired. Also, it will need to consider the onboarding process in terms of how to communicate its operational ethos. After hiring, UPMC will train the employees, develop employment contracts, and handle payrolls and benefits. This can effectively be achieved by employing a global recruitment consultant.
Global Payroll management
All overseas employees and expatriates must be paid. UPMC must set up an overseas payroll procedure for all the staff. Ideally, UPMC will be paying employees from one time zone and currency to the other, meaning that it will need to automate its payroll and consider any exchange rate fluctuations that may occur. As such, UPMC will work with an expansion partner, who will process its cross-border payments by centrally coordinating the payroll options and processes within a single software platform.
The other strategic plan that UPMC can adopt is reducing costs. Considering the rapidly changing government directives on healthcare costs and the increasing cost of health insurance premiums, UPMC must adopt a strategy to minimize costs and increase its profit margin to ensure sustainability. The other effective cost-cutting strategy that UPMC can adopt is developing an employee wellness program. Considering the work environment in hospitals, employees get sick often.
Therefore, to minimize the cost of employee health coverage, UPMC can develop a robust employee wellness program that seeks to mitigate the risk of hospital-acquired infections and guarantees the safety of both patients and employees. The wellness program could promote health and wellness in and out of the hospital and cover various aspects, including regularly scheduled medical check-ups.
The other cost-cutting strategy that UPMC can adopt is minimizing the cost of overhead, such as electricity and water. Modern hospitals have adopted motion sensors and LED lighting systems to reduce energy costs. Energy-efficient motion sensor bulbs and water taps within the facility can go a long way in ensuring that UPMC minimizes the cost of water and electricity overhead. The cost savings can then be passed over to customers regarding reduced cost of services.
Adopting standardized patient care can also help UPMC to save on costs. Ginter et al. (2018) observed that hospitals could easily cut operation costs by encouraging physicians to standardize patient care procedures, for example, adopting a standardized protocol for conducting check-ups and testing. Standardized care procedures eliminate unnecessary procedures, saving the hospital money on staff costs and the patient’s money on healthcare costs.
To minimize the cost of employee health coverage, UPMC can develop a robust employee wellness program that seeks to minimize the risk of hospital-acquired infections and guarantees the safety of both patients and employees. The wellness program could promote health and wellness in and out of the hospital. The following programs can be strategic in ensuring UPMC employees are healthy both in and out of the hospital:
Employee wellness can be guaranteed by caring for their physical health and their mental health. The assistance program can assist employees with mental health issues such as anxiety, substance abuse, and depression. The program can also focus on helping the employees achieve peace of mind to perform their best. Moreover, the program can boost satisfaction and confidence between employees and employers.
This program aims to promote employees’ physical and mental wellness. Because sometimes they sit for long hours, they need time to move around and exercise. The hospital will set up an onsite gym to conveniently provide fitness classes and services to the staff. The staff will then be encouraged to form fitness groups to encourage each other to keep fit.
The two employee wellness programs will be launched in steps. The first step will be setting goals that will benefit the staff and the organization. Next, a comprehensive wellness team will be created to spearhead the project in partnership with HR. Next, the wellness team will collect data from the staff on the specific areas can be done through internal surveys and face-to-face meetings. The team will then develop an implementation plan for the fitness center before communicating the program to the entire organization’s staff. After implementation, the team will acquire feedback from the staff and make the necessary adjustments to the program.
Developing Competitive Advantages
UPMC will benefit from developing a strategic focus towards a robust competitive advantage. By identifying possible competitors and making effective market moves ahead, UPMC will stay ahead of its competitors and edge them out. To gain a competitive advantage, UPMC must develop a distinctiveness that clients value and offer services that competitors can neither offer nor imitate. New and excellent equipment that provides quality services is one of the strategies that healthcare organizations can use to attract new customers. Therefore, UPMC should invest in the latest healthcare equipment that guarantees quality services and client satisfaction.
Another strategy that will guarantee UPMC a competitive advantage is organizing care around the patient’s condition. Rather than only offering generalist or specialty care, UPMC can deliver more value by integrating generalist and specialty care into an integrated practice unit (IPU), where care focuses on the patents’ condition and is provided by a multidisciplinary team (Ginter et al. 2,018).
According to Wong et al. (2020), IPUs present an opportunity for service providers to offer more profound expertise across the entire care cycle, recognizing that conditions are complex and interrelated. Therefore, if UPMC can organize care around the patient’s condition by implementing the IPU model, it can create a competitive advantage on health outcomes and cost (Johnston-Brooks, 2021).
A key strategy for developing a competitive advantage is to turn care pathways into integrated patient units that offer a full cycle of care for the patient’s medical conditions, including patient engagement, education, follow-up, and rehabilitative care. Implementing the IPU strategy will require various forms of integration at different levels of the organization. First, UPMC will need to conduct a structural integration, including financial and legal integration; process integration, which includes a single coordinated process across the organization.
Appropriate organizational structure
The proposed cost reduction, competitive advantage, and global expansion strategies will require a functional organizational structure because it is easily scalable in any sized organization. According to Ginter et al. (2018), a functional organizational structure has positions that start from the highest levels of responsibility at the top and trickle down from there.
Employees are primarily organized based on their specific functions and skills within the organization, while each separate department is independently managed. UPMC employees will focus on their roles through a functional organizational structure because it encourages specialization. Furthermore, a functional organizational structure will enable easier coordination of departments while allowing each department to feel self-determined. This makes it especially appropriate for implementing integrated patient units’ strategies.
Strategy: Enhance health information technology processes within the organization.
Corresponding goals to support strategy:
Potential EHR systems to integrate into the facility
The organization will implement the physician-hosted system, which hosts all the data on a physician’s server. As such, the organization will be responsible for the purchase, maintenance, and security of the hardware and software and the security of data stored in its servers (Ginter et al., 2018). According to Novak et al. (2019), a physician-hosted server is beneficial for larger organizations to afford the overhead costs associated with complex software. Nonetheless, having on-site servers can speed up the EHR functioning and make it a more reliable information source.
Install and train staff on selected EHR system
After installing the EHR into the organization’s computer systems, the organization will train its staff on how to use the system. The training process will involve a few activities, including Developing an EHR training timeline based on the organizational goals. The timeline will consider the ongoing nature of training exercises, whereby staff requires new skills as the system gets updated.
The project lead will also assess the staff’s training needs and tailor the training curriculum to those needs. The assessment of staff training needs will mainly focus on the staff’s computer skills and abilities to execute the EHR’s basic functionalities. The other item under training is selecting the training team and developing the correct curriculum.
Identify Novel Practices and Systems for Installation or Conversion.
The first step in setting up the EHR will be conducting a system configuration, which represents patient information and details of the organization’s medical practice (Wong et al., 2020). This will involve programming the location of practice and healthcare providers who will use the system. This step will also involve designing the practice’s clinical workflow by creating work templates. The templates are meant to ensure meaningful use and physician quality
reporting system standards as stipulated by federal regulations. By adhering to these rules, the institution will avoid Medicare payment penalties.
Structure to improve the patient (customer service) experience
Reducing patient wait time
One of the strategies that will be implemented to reduce patient waiting time is to gather patient information before they are scheduled for an appointment. While this activity may seem simple, implementing it requires attention to detail. For example, the office staff will be required to gather patient history and insurance information when they schedule an appointment.
Furthermore, patient records and referrals will be made ready and waiting when the patient arrives. More importantly, patients will be asked to complete and or send necessary documents before their appointments. Timely collecting of all the patient data and paperwork will ensure that the patients do not wait for their paperwork to be completed before they receive services – so that their check-in is not delayed.
Integrate a Customer Experience Survey
Several steps will be taken to integrate customer experience surveys into the organization’s operations. First, the organization will use the patient-submitted information to match the patient’s records in the EHR system. Because the encounter information will be captured as part of the patient survey, the survey provider will be called upon to integrate the survey with clinical records.
The other activity that will be conducted to integrate the customer experience survey will be to create a comprehensive patient record from the database to aggregate the encounters’ relevant information from the patient by providing a context to the survey responses (Ramaswamy et al., 2020). Moreover, the surveys will be grouped by practitioner and location to determine trends better. Lastly, the integrated data will be used to drive change by identifying the main indicators of unfavorable patient satisfaction scores and driving change within the hospital organization.
Initiate and develop proactive patient contact
The hospital will leverage its patient profiles to determine the most effective approaches to patient engagement, including a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. The CRM platform will enable visible access to daily customer interactions with the health system across different channels, including email openings, downloads, or even direct emails sent to them.
Maximize patient safety while minimizing employee workplace injuries and illnesses
Reducing medication errors
The organization will implement simple steps to minimize medication errors. One of the steps will be to minimize clutter within the workplace, especially within the pharmacy environment. Keeping the pharmacy counters clutter-free and clean will be part of the steps to reduce dispensing errors. Part of this strategy will be to use the basket system to keep different patients’ drugs and prescriptions separately and clear away empty bottles.
Increase Employee Safety Training
The safety training will cover various safety issues and precautions, such as common workplace hazards, how to reduce the risk of harm, how to act in case of emergency, and safety responsibilities at the workplace. After identifying the key training areas, the organization will roll out a periodic training timetable instead of a one-and-done program. A multi-step approach will be taken to implement the training process because there will likely be multiple elements to the safety program.
Reduce mistakes made during surgical procedures
One of the strategies for reducing errors during surgical errors is to take periodic timeouts during the procedure. By taking breaks, surgeons will have time to re-evaluate their operating techniques and give time for nurses to account for all the equipment involved in the procedure. Surgeons and nurses will also be required to meet with patients before the procedure so that physicians can verify important patient information.
Strengthen the organization’s value to the community by reducing health disparities
Enhance service delivery to the community
The organization will work with the community to sensitize them on healthy practices focusing on education, wellness, hygiene. The organization will also redevelop existing properties to provide affordable and safe homes for low-income community members.
Meet community-defined needs
One of the most defined community health needs is reduced smoking. The organization will participate in tobacco prevention interventions such as mass-reach health communication campaigns delivered through locally consumed mainstream media, including hard-hitting graphic images meant to change the beliefs, knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes towards tobacco use.
Perform community health assessments to examine community health diseases better
The community health assessments will identify important information about the community’s health status, issues, and needs. The information will be useful in developing a health and well-being improvement plan by identifying where and how resources can be allocated to meet community health needs.
UPMC, as a healthcare organization, has various strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. However, by adopting the right strategic direction, the organization can leverage its strengths and opportunities to minimize its weaknesses and threats. By reducing costs, increasing its global outreach, and enhancing its competitive advantage, UPMC can reach greater heights as a healthcare organization. For now, the organization should focus on improving health information technology processes, improving the patient (customer service) experience, maximizing patient safety while minimizing employee workplace injuries and illnesses, and strengthening the organization’s value to the community by reducing health disparities.
Curtin, L. (2017). Secrets, lies, and cover-ups: The impact of the new healthcare bill can’t be hidden forever. American Nurse Today, 12(8), I1-I1.
Capella University. (2019). TOWS Matrix Analysis. Accessed 30th December 2021 from http://media.capella.edu/coursemedia/mha5010element17306/wrapper.asp
Ginter, P. M., Swayne, L. E., & Duncan, W. J. (2018). Strategic management of healthcare organizations. Accessed 30th December 2021 from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.library.capella.edu
Johnston-Brooks, C. H., Grassmeyer, R. P., Filley, C. M., & Kelly, J. P. (2021). The Marcus Institute for Brain Health: an integrated practice unit for the care of traumatic brain injury in military veterans. Brain Injury, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699052.2021.2013535
Novak, M., Dziadkowiec, O., Strauss, S., McCallister, D., & Firstenberg, M. S. (2019). Summary of the first annual rocky mountain healthcare symposium. International Journal of Critical Illness And Injury Science, 9(3), 151. DOI: 10.4103/IJCIIS.IJCIIS_70_19
Ramaswamy, A., Yu, M., Drangsholt, S., Ng, E., Culligan, P. J., Schlegel, P. N., & Hu, J. C. (2020). Patient satisfaction with telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic: retrospective cohort study. Journal of medical Internet research, 22(9), e20786. https://preprints.jmir.org/preprint/20786
Wong, B., Seckler, T., Dalla Pazze, L., Brown, R., Rhein, L., & Flotte, T. (2020). DMD & BMD–CLINICAL: P. 43 Patient and family-centric care for Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy: towards the IPU (Integrated Practice Unit) model. Neuromuscular Disorders, 30, S60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nmd.2020.08.051
TOWS Matrix Analysis and Strategic Plan Scoring Guide
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