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In the past 2-3 years, priorities for health centers have shifted dramatically, which for many resulted in putting goals and objectives within their strategic plan on hold. As Covid-19 becomes endemic and we are now moving into flu season, a lot of health centers are revisiting their strategic plan and looking at what that document means to them and their Board of Directors. Having a strategic plan is a program requirement; in fact, it can be found in Chapter 19-Board Authority, Element C, which requires “a long-range plan/strategic plan, but not limited to identifying health center priorities and adopting a three-year plan for financial management and capital expenditures”. A three-year plan normally coincides with the Service Area Competition (SAC) application which health centers must complete to maintain federal funding. Having a plan that only addresses financial management and capital expenditures along with some health priorities may minimally meet the fulfillment of this part of the requirement, but it is not an industry best practice. Remember, the program requirements are the foundation, not the ceiling.
A strategic plan developed by the Board of Directors and health center staff works to create objectives and set goals for where the health center sees itself in the long-term. With goals and objectives established, having a plan allows a health center to work towards and achieve the goals set. It is essentially a road map to achieve goals and objectives that are based on documentation, such as needs assessments, focus groups, patient and staff surveys, etc.
To develop a strategic plan, a health center should:
Although the Health Center Program Requirements have provided a guide as to what should be included in a strategic plan, it is the responsibility of the health center to determine what is included in the plan. A strategic plan must be reasonable, clearly defined and not overstated. For more information, please visit : https://conferences.nachc.org/nachc/articles/3581/view
 SMART goals are “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based” https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm