Creating a project plan for the healthcare industry can be a tedious, technical, and challenging process. Since healthcare is an industry people rely heavily on for their health and wellness, creating and proposing expansion plans and project improvements are critical. It’s necessary, especially in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
One of the plans many hospital stakeholders work on and prioritise is expansion. In almost any hospital worldwide, hundreds to thousands of people come in and out daily. As one goes out for discharge, one comes in for a check-up and admission. Without any warning, hospital demand could increase, and the next thing you know, they could no longer accommodate more patients.
In short, expanding hospitals is vital for health professionals to accommodate and attend to as many patients as possible. This need became evident when the pandemic surge happened unexpectedly. The thing is, working on hospital expansion plans comes with many challenges. If you’ve been planning to work on one, here are seven challenges of proposing a hospital expansion plan.
1 – Having different and contradicting opinions from the internal stakeholders
In the healthcare industry, “stakeholders” refer to people who have the power in particular decisions made in the industry. It includes physicians, staff, board members, volunteers, and donors. When many people are involved in the decision-making process, varying and contradicting opinions and suggestions could happen.
As you discuss your ideas for the expansion plan, expect the stakeholders to recommend various and contradicting suggestions. After all, anything that concerns the hospital is a massive and critical topic that stakeholders must discuss thoroughly.
2 – Could affect patient experience and hospital operations
When a hospital undergoes an expansion plan, its workflow will change. You’ll need to relocate the departments and offices in the areas where the expansion project starts. Overall, health professionals and patients will be the ones experiencing the inconvenience and changes during the project.
If the construction project is near areas where many in-patients stay, it could affect their stay tremendously. Even though you warn and orient your health professionals about what to expect, it could still negatively affect their work operations. That’s why you should make thorough planning, project phasing, and considerations before implementation.
3 – Delay in the review and approval of the expansion plan
Creating a rigorous expansion plan is already challenging. But the real challenge does not end there because it’s just the beginning. The hardest part starts when you submit your ideas to the management that reviews and approves the proposal.
Usually, it takes a while for them to review, revise, and approve a project. Since those stakeholders have a lot on their plates, it could take months or even years before hearing back. Unless it’s a plan that they suggested and wants to implement as soon as possible, delays could happen.
4 – Complications in budget approval and grant
Typically, budget approvals undergo five stages. First is setting and planning budget policies. Then, each concerned department prepares the budget. After that, they’ll consolidate the budget based on the organisation’s guidelines. When done, the top management will review it, and if they give their go-signal, the finance team will process the approval.
It may seem easy to break the process down into those five steps. But in reality, you could encounter revisions, applications, and clarifications when dealing with the management at every step. After all, fund allocation and approval is a topic that hospitals review thoroughly.
5 – Communication problems with concerned management
Even when just working on an expansion plan, communication issues could arise. If you’re already struggling to relay critical messages to respective teams, can you imagine how it would be when it’s time to revise and rewrite the plan?
The thing is, many people will be working on the plan. As you work on its intricate technical details, you’ll need other professionals’ assistance, suggestions, and guidance. Communication issues and misunderstandings could happen along the way if varying perspectives exist. Aside from that, if each department has other responsibilities, their schedule differences could disrupt communication.
6 – Compatibility of the plan with the hospital’s existing building structure and age
If you were to expand a hospital’s old building, you’d have to consider if a structure is compatible with the construction plans. There are cases when a building is no longer ideal for expansion because it would only damage and weaken its composition. Engineers usually recommend building a new property instead of expanding in those cases.
It is a challenge for proposal makers because it could mean they’d have to change and let go of their initial plan. Also, when that happens, it could cause the hospital more problems and affect the plan’s overall approval process.
7 – Capability of the hospital to manage additional costs, including higher bills, added workforce, and more
It’s exciting to think about how the plan would look once it’s over. However, that fantasy doesn’t last once you consider the hospital’s long-term capability to manage additional costs. This factor is a critical issue that affects top management’s decisions. Even though they like the plan, they need to weigh the hospital’s benefits and risks if they approve the expansion.
Overlooking this challenge could lead you to false high hopes and excitement. So you must keep this in mind when working on a hospital expansion plan proposal.
These challenges will help shape your plan into its best version, leading to the best results.
Working on a hospital expansion plan is easier said than done. You’ll likely encounter hundreds to thousands of roadblocks, complications, and revisions before you finalise one that you believe is at its best. Ultimately, those challenges help you produce a proposal that best aligns with the hospital’s needs and demands.
It could take months to years, but no plan is easy to finish, especially for a massive institution. Best believe that undergoing revisions, rejections, and miscommunications will help you produce the best expansion plan worthy of the budget the institution will invest in the proposal.
About the author:
Bianca Banda is a writer for Flex by MTX, a privately owned construction and engineering company that relentlessly champions the use of Modern Methods of Construction for social, economic, and environmental good.