SWOT Analysis in Healthcare: What Is It and How Does It Work?

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Healthcare SWOT Analysis

Healthcare SWOT Analysis

Understanding your practice’s internal and external strengths and weaknesses can be a complete game changer. Using a SWOT analysis, you can identify what you’re doing well and where you can improve.

What is a SWOT analysis, though, and how does it work? How can you use it to help your healthcare business thrive and grow?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the answers to these questions and more, so you can create your own SWOT analysis. Once you do, you’ll have the tools you need to develop an incredibly powerful strategic plan for your medical practice.

What Is SWOT Analysis in Healthcare?

SWOT is a strategic planning technique that can be used to define the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your practice or healthcare business. While the name might conjure images of a special weapons and tactics unit swarming a building, it’s actually just an acronym for the elements the process helps you define.

Using SWOT analysis for your healthcare organization allows you to have a crystal clear overview of the most important metrics that impact your performance and success.

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis originated in the 1960s thanks to the work of Albert Humphrey of the Stanford Research Institute. In his effort to identify why corporate planning consistently failed, he published the SOFT framework along with a team led by Robert Steward. The SOFT framework eventually morphed into the SWOT analysis. The acronym in the SOFT framework was described by Humphrey as “What is good in the present is Satisfactory, good in the future is an Opportunity, bad in the present is a Fault, and bad in the future is a threat.”

Though SWOT analysis was initially developed to deal with the question of corporate planning, many healthcare companies have found that this analysis can help them get a bird’s eye perspective of their business as well as predict what opportunities and obstacles might meet them down the road.

The SWOT Analysis Process

Before we talk about how a SWOT analysis can help your business, let’s dive a little deeper into each element of the acronym.

The SWOT Analysis Process

Strengths

During the first stage of your analysis, you’ll identify the strong attributes of your healthcare practice. This can include tangible assets like a great location, skilled staff, and extensive experience, as well as intangible assets such as an established brand name or brand loyalty.

Weaknesses

Now it’s time to look at some of the weak points in your healthcare business. While this might not be as fun as the strengths, identifying weak spots is an essential step in helping your practice grow and thrive.

Your weaknesses include things that your competitors do better, things your business lacks, and resource limitations you face. Additionally, weaknesses can also include issues with intangible assets, such as a lack of an established brand identity.

There is a lot of potential value in identifying your weaknesses as a business and a brand. For example, if you’ve discovered that you’ve been overlooking the importance of digital marketing for your healthcare business, you can solve this problem by implementing a number of strategies that will bring in more traffic, more clients, more reviews, and more profits.

Opportunities

In this section, you’ll likely find opportunities for business growth that are hiding right under your nose. You might find that there’s an emerging need for a specific service and not a lot of competition, opportunities for press or media coverage, or another valuable opportunity that changes the game for your practice.

Threats

Finally, let’s look at the threats that pose a risk to the likelihood of growth and success for your business. This encompasses everything from new competitors in the market and financial pressures to changes in regulations or negative media coverage that relates to your practice.

This proactive and essential part of SWOT analysis can help your business survive obstacles down the road and be active rather than reactive in the face of threats.

What Are the Benefits of SWOT Analysis in Healthcare?

Conducting a SWOT analysis for your healthcare business is something that produces endless benefits. Let’s look at some of the most prominent perks of taking the time to define the elements that are most influential on your success.

It Expands Your Perspective

Businesses, just like people, can struggle to get enough distance from themselves to develop a full perspective. This means that some strengths might go unnoticed or exaggerated while weaknesses are misconstrued or completely overlooked. No matter how much time, energy, and effort a person puts into running a successful healthcare company, there are likely some spots where they are a bit short-sighted.

Creating a Business Plan

One of the tools that you can use to fight this issue is SWOT analysis. When you go through the steps of identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your practice or business, it can illuminate bits of information that revolutionize your ability to understand your own business so you can create a plan for success.

It Helps You Find New Opportunities

There is always room for progress, no matter what type of healthcare business you operate. However, it isn’t always easy to find new and innovative ideas that will help take your practice to the next level.

If it’s time to take a look at your business from every angle to determine where there are new, untapped possibilities, SWOT analysis can help. When you incorporate SWOT analysis into your business structure, you’ll likely find that you’ll be ahead of the curve in relation to your competition time and time again.

Finding New Business Opportunities

You can uncover countless ideas when you run a SWOT analysis of potential opportunities. For example, maybe you realize there are lots of healthcare keywords that your competitors aren’t targeting that can give you an advantage on search engine result pages.

It Discovers Potential Future Obstacles

There are always going to be obstacles down the road in a quickly changing industry like healthcare. One of the primary ways you can arm yourself against these challenges is by anticipating them and planning ahead.

Discovering Potential Future Obstacles

When you discuss potential future threats with your team, you’ll brainstorm about everything that could get in the way of profitability and progress in the foreseeable future. This will give you ample time to come up with strategies to combat this difficulty if and when you face it.

It Can Give You Valuable Insight Into Your Competition

SWOT analysis isn’t just something you can use to help understand your own healthcare practice– you can also use it to better understand your competitors. This can be a huge leg-up, as you’ll become well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of other businesses that appeal to the same target demographic.

Gaining Insight Into Business Competition

For example, let’s say that you determine that your biggest competitor has invested a lot of time and energy into citation building and backlinks, and it’s been paying off. You might determine that this is where your practice needs to compete to climb your way up search results pages or discover another segment of digital marketing that they haven’t yet taken advantage of.

How Does SWOT Analysis Work?

Now that we’ve taken a thorough look at each element of the SWOT analysis, let’s look at how this process works and how you can conduct it for your own business.

Draw Four Quadrants

The first step is to draw the four quadrants of the SWOT process on a piece of paper or to use a digital version of the graph. This is simply one square divided into four quadrants. In a clockwise motion starting with the top left square, you’ll write your strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities.

When you orient your quadrants in this way, it further divides the elements in a useful way.

Drawing SWOT Analysis Quadrants

The column on the left will then consist of strengths and opportunities, which are both helpful elements in reaching your objective. On the other hand, the right column contains weaknesses and threats, both of which are harmful to achieving your objective.

The top row of the visual contains strengths and weaknesses, both of which are attributes of your organization that originate internally. The bottom row consists of opportunities and threats, both of which are attributes of the environment that originate externally.

Gather Essential Data

Now that you have your SWOT visual laid out, it’s time to gather all of the information you’ll need.

The data you gather can range from disease registries and patient health records to funding sources and claims statuses. To avoid getting overwhelmed and bogged down in the details, try and stick to key metrics that are related to your strategy.

Gathering Essential Data

Using this data can be a big help when you’re worried about your gut reactions and biases impacting your ability to identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Fill Out the SWOT Categories

Using all of the data you’ve gathered and your knowledge about your business, it’s now time to fill out each category of your SWOT visual. Let’s look at some questions you can ask that will help you create a list for each element.

Strengths

Coming up with strengths is likely one of the easiest parts of your SWOT analysis. That being said, answering certain questions can help get the ball rolling.

Healthcare Practice Strengths

These questions include:

  • What is your unique selling proposition?
  • What do your patients love about your practice, services, or brand?
  • What are the most positive attributes of your brand?
  • What does your business do better than your competitors?
  • What resources do you have that your competitors don’t have?

Weaknesses

Before you start building your weaknesses list, it’s important to remember that the more honest you are, the more helpful this process will be. Objectivity is key here, even if it isn’t a blast. By identifying your weaknesses, you can come up with strategies to overcome them.

Healthcare Practice Weaknesses

Here are some questions that will help you create your list of weaknesses:

  • Why do your patients cancel appointments or find a new practice?
  • What do your patients dislike about your practice, services, or brand?
  • What patterns have emerged in negative reviews or patient complaints?
  • What are the major challenges you face in relation to revenue?
  • What are the most negative attributes of your brand?
  • What could your business be doing better?
  • What resources do you not have that your competitors do have?

Opportunities

Now it’s time to look for the opportunities your business could be taking advantage of.

Healthcare Practice Opportunities

Here are some questions you can use to identify potential opportunities:

  • Are there resources we have that we aren’t leveraging to their full capacity?
  • How could we engage our most loyal brand advocates further?
  • What kind of messaging do we know resonates with our clients and patients?
  • What can we do to improve the patient experience?

Threats

Finally, let’s create a list of threats. Threats can include things as varied as dissatisfied patients and stiff competition to security breaches and staff morale issues.

Healthcare Practice Threats

To help identify your threats, ask yourself these questions about your business:

  • What difficulties are we currently facing?
  • Are there potential industry or regulation changes we should be aware of?
  • Are there economic, political, technological, or socio-cultural factors that could threaten our business?
  • Are there emerging patient issues we should be aware of?

Perform Analysis and Make Decisions

You’ve likely learned a lot so far in this process about your business and your competition. Additionally, you’ve probably already come up with some ideas about what you can do to help your practice succeed and grow.

That being said, you’ll want to sit down with your completed SWOT matrix and take a look at each point written within each element.

Performing Analysis and Making Decisions

When looking at your strengths, you’ll want to consider how you can use these to your advantage and whether they help you achieve some of the opportunities you discovered or combat some of the threats you outlined. When looking at your weaknesses, consider how impactful these weaknesses are on your ability to thrive as a practice and what you can do about them.

Is It Time to Make Your Site One of Your Strengths?

Have you discovered that one of your weaknesses as a healthcare practice is your website? When you ran a SWOT analysis of your competitors, did you realize that they’re blowing you out of the water when it comes to SEO, PPC, social media marketing, and content creation?

A Professional Digital Marketing Team

If you answered yes to any of those questions, don’t worry. At Blue Pig, we offer a full suite of digital marketing services to medical practices and healthcare companies.

Is it time for you to take action and harness the power of digital marketing for your practice? If so, contact us today to get started.

David Curtis
David Curtis
David Curtis is the founder and CEO of Blue Pig Media. With twenty years of successful execution in sales, marketing and operations, for both clients and vendors, he has a bottom line ROI driven mentality rooted in metrics driven performance across highly competitive global corporate initiatives.

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