Milken Institute School of Public Health Poster Presentations (Marvin Center & Video)

Title

Review of Strategic Thinking Approaches and Tools Used in Healthcare Administration Education and Practice

Poster Number

32

Document Type

Poster

Publication Date

3-2016

Abstract

Background: With an ever-changing, complex landscape, the healthcare industry must be able to strategically manage and respond to challenges. Strategic thinking is often regarded as the precursor and underlying mechanism of strategic management, and is an essential skill for healthcare leaders. The strategic thinking process relies on synthesis, implementation and evaluation. While the value of strategic thinking is well recognized, it is unclear what formal educational approaches are used to develop strategic thinking. Identifying what tools, methods, and techniques exist to develop strategic thinking can inform healthcare administration education and professional development for current and future healthcare leaders.

Objective: The objective of this literature review is to identify and describe educational tools used to teach strategic thinking to healthcare students and managers. By building on earlier works and addressing gaps in literature, this paper aims to contribute to the understanding, development and education of strategic thinking in current and future healthcare leaders.

Methods: A systematic literature review of formal educational tools for strategic thinking was conducted using the PRISMA guideline. Pertinent studies were searched in four databases: ABI/Inform Complete Plus, CINAHL Plus, ERIC, and MEDLINE Complete using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. The search was limited to titles or abstracts and studies published between 1994 and January 2016.

Search terms consisted of a combination of four domains:

1) Topic of interest (strategic thinking);

2) Approach (e.g. “education,” “tools,” “methods”);

3) Target group (e.g. “students”, “managers,” “leaders”); and

4) Industry/setting (e.g. “healthcare,” “healthcare administration program,” “hospital”).

Results:

We identified 12 studies that met the inclusion criteria. The studies featured a variety of practical approaches to develop strategic thinking, including formalized instruction, specific work experiences; and utilization of system archetypes.

Conclusion:

In our literature review, we identified a limited number of formal educational tools to train healthcare leaders in strategic thinking. Given the importance of strategic thinking ability in the healthcare management literature, this finding is surprising. Several explanations may support this finding. First, strategic thinking development may occur more informally or in hands-on field experiences not reported in the literature. Second, educational tools may focus on particular sub-components of strategic thinking (synthesis, implementation and evaluation). Finally, we excluded terms related to strategic thinking (e.g. strategic planning, strategic marketing, strategic management), which are often used interchangeably despite certain distinctions. Overall, there are few tools, methods, and techniques identified in the literature to help develop strategic thinking in current and future healthcare leaders.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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Presented at: GW Research Days 2016

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Review of Strategic Thinking Approaches and Tools Used in Healthcare Administration Education and Practice

Background: With an ever-changing, complex landscape, the healthcare industry must be able to strategically manage and respond to challenges. Strategic thinking is often regarded as the precursor and underlying mechanism of strategic management, and is an essential skill for healthcare leaders. The strategic thinking process relies on synthesis, implementation and evaluation. While the value of strategic thinking is well recognized, it is unclear what formal educational approaches are used to develop strategic thinking. Identifying what tools, methods, and techniques exist to develop strategic thinking can inform healthcare administration education and professional development for current and future healthcare leaders.

Objective: The objective of this literature review is to identify and describe educational tools used to teach strategic thinking to healthcare students and managers. By building on earlier works and addressing gaps in literature, this paper aims to contribute to the understanding, development and education of strategic thinking in current and future healthcare leaders.

Methods: A systematic literature review of formal educational tools for strategic thinking was conducted using the PRISMA guideline. Pertinent studies were searched in four databases: ABI/Inform Complete Plus, CINAHL Plus, ERIC, and MEDLINE Complete using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. The search was limited to titles or abstracts and studies published between 1994 and January 2016.

Search terms consisted of a combination of four domains:

1) Topic of interest (strategic thinking);

2) Approach (e.g. “education,” “tools,” “methods”);

3) Target group (e.g. “students”, “managers,” “leaders”); and

4) Industry/setting (e.g. “healthcare,” “healthcare administration program,” “hospital”).

Results:

We identified 12 studies that met the inclusion criteria. The studies featured a variety of practical approaches to develop strategic thinking, including formalized instruction, specific work experiences; and utilization of system archetypes.

Conclusion:

In our literature review, we identified a limited number of formal educational tools to train healthcare leaders in strategic thinking. Given the importance of strategic thinking ability in the healthcare management literature, this finding is surprising. Several explanations may support this finding. First, strategic thinking development may occur more informally or in hands-on field experiences not reported in the literature. Second, educational tools may focus on particular sub-components of strategic thinking (synthesis, implementation and evaluation). Finally, we excluded terms related to strategic thinking (e.g. strategic planning, strategic marketing, strategic management), which are often used interchangeably despite certain distinctions. Overall, there are few tools, methods, and techniques identified in the literature to help develop strategic thinking in current and future healthcare leaders.