SWOT analysis can help to identify internal and external factors that can foster or hinder organization or program success. A SWOT analysis organizes the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats of an organization or program. The identification of weaknesses and threats indicates factors that have a negative impact on the organization or program and need to be addressed. Strengths and opportunities are factors that have a positive impact on the organization or program and should be maintained. This knowledge is important for strategic planning (Hill & Jones, 2012). This paper provides a SWOT analysis of the author’s practicum organisation, an urgent care clinic. The clinic mainly treats a wide variety of medical conditions requiring immediate attention, including minor injuries, coughs and colds, breathing difficulties, eye and ear problems, fever, headaches and migraines, uncontrollable bleeding, stomach problems, skin problems, poisonings, and seizures.
â€¢ Wide variety of health care services
â€¢ Comparatively short wait times
â€¢ Competent and highly qualified staff
â€¢ Care affordability
â€¢ Robust commitment to health care quality and safety
â€¢ High patient volume
â€¢ Relatively high patient satisfaction levels
â€¢ Advanced health care technology
â€¢ Online presence
â€¢ Strong partnerships with the community
â€¢ Regional recognition
â€¢ Good location
â€¢ Inadequate staffing
â€¢ Excessive workloads
â€¢ Extended working hours
â€¢ High staff turnover
â€¢ Staff management problems
â€¢ Organisational politics
â€¢ Ineffective utilization of health informatics
â€¢ Inadequate integration of evidence into practice
â€¢ Financial constraints
â€¢ Demographic shifts
â€¢ Increased demand for health care
â€¢ New care delivery models
â€¢ Competition (other urgent care clinics)
â€¢ Unfavourable health care reforms and adverse shifts in government regulations
Knowledge of the organisation’s internal and external environment helps the organisation to make important strategic decisions (Harrison, 2010). More specifically, the organisation determines how it can utilise its strengths and exploit the available opportunities to overcome its weaknesses and threats.
How can weaknesses be converted into strengths?
The SWOT analysis demonstrates that the organisation has number of weaknesses that could hamper its success in the highly dynamic and complex health care environment. These include inadequate staffing, excessive workloads, extended working hours, high staff turnover, inadequate integration of evidence into practice, and ineffective utilisation of health informatics. The organisation also faces staff management problems, organisational politics, and financial constraints. These weaknesses could have negative implications on the organisation’s productivity and performance. For instance, inadequate staffing and excessive workloads mean a low ratio of staff to patients. For members of staff, this can be a source of physiological and psychological distress, which can result in job dissatisfaction. Indeed, the high rate of staff turnover the organisation is experiencing has a lot to do with excessive workloads. More importantly, staff management deficiencies can negatively affect patient satisfaction levels by contributing to medical errors. It is, therefore, imperative for the organisation to overcome these weaknesses.
First, the organisation should increase its staffing levels to reduce the workload on staff members. Increasing staffing levels would also lead to more reasonable work schedules, thereby improving work-life balance. In essence, the organisation can convert its weaknesses into strengths. By enhancing staffing levels and personnel management, the organisation would increase employee satisfaction, consequently creating a more fulfilling work environment for its employees. Improved employee satisfaction could positively affect care delivery in general.
Can strengths be used to overcome threats? How?
Identifying strengths enables an organisation to determine its capacity to overcome the threats it faces (Harrison, 2010). The organisation faces two major threats: competition and unfavourable healthcare reforms. Competition is a particularly important threat as there are other clinics providing similar services. Without commitment to quality, safe, effective, affordable, and timely care, the organisation may lose its patients to other clinics. The organisation’s strengths place it in a good position to overcome competition. Specifically, the organisation boasts, among other strengths, affordable care, high levels of patient satisfaction, highly skilled staff, strategic location, extensive brand recognition, and valuable community partnerships. These strengths give the organisation a crucial competitive edge in its industry of operation. Even so, the organisation cannot afford to rest on its laurels — it must constantly improve its strengths if it is to effectively counter the increasingly significant threat of competition.
In addition to competition, the organisation faces the threat of unfavourable government regulations. Due to its nature, the healthcare industry is one of the most regulated industries. The government extensively monitors the industry to ensure public safety. In an effort to enhance efficiency, cost-effectiveness, patient-provider relationships, and other aspects of healthcare, the government may often implement reforms through legislation and policies. While government legislation is usually intended for maximising public welfare, at times it may be a threat to organisations. For instance, the government may change the way healthcare providers are reimbursed, negatively affecting providers. For the organisation, however, its strong commitment to high quality care can serve as a buffer against such regulatory adjustments. For instance, if the government tightens reimbursement mechanisms, the organisation may not be worried due to its commendable patient metrics.
How can opportunities be maximized?
Strengths are important for not only overcoming threats, but also exploiting opportunities. With its strengths, the organisation is also in a good position to maximise the opportunities available to it. Some of the opportunities available to the organisation include demographic shifts, increased demand for health care, community partnerships, new care delivery models, and expansion. Owing to an aging population and the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases, the demand for health care has been on the rise (Ginter, 2013). This presents important opportunities for players in the health care environment. Riding on its reputation, the organisation can expand its services to more locations. This would present the organisation with a larger client base.
New delivery care models also present a significant opportunity for the organisation. With a changing health care environment, the importance of innovation cannot be overemphasised. Innovations in the health care environment have particularly revolved around care delivery (Ginter, 2013). Today, for instance, medical homes and retail health clinics have become commonplace, transforming the way health care is delivered. As the organisation explores growth opportunities, these are valuable opportunities to focus on. On the whole, though it may not be possible to take advantage of all the opportunities available at the same time, the organisation should exploit as many opportunities as it can, obviously considering its strengths.
How can weaknesses be minimized?
It may also not be possible to eliminate all the weaknesses at the same time. The organisation should strive to achieve the minimum weaknesses possible. Weaknesses can be minimised by leveraging strengths. This essentially means using strengths as a springboard for overcoming internal problems and inefficiencies. An important aspect in minimising weaknesses is prioritising them (Harrison, 2010). Broadly speaking, some weaknesses are more important than others. In this case, for instance, the most important weakness is inadequate staffing. Without adequate staffing, most aspects of health care delivery in a health care environment can stall or be negatively affected. The problem of inadequate staffing takes priority over the other problems because solving it can solve other problems such as excessive workloads, extended work hours, and staff turnover. In essence, prioritising weaknesses helps the organisation to determine where to focus its resources and effort more in order to achieve the minimum level of weaknesses possible.
Ginter, P. (2013). The strategic management of health care organizations. 7th ed. Hoboken: Wiley.
Harrison, J. (2010). Essentials of strategic planning in healthcare. U.S.: Health Administration Press.
Hill, C., & Jones, G. (2012). Essentials of strategic management. 3rd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning.
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