Where There’s a Plan, There’s a Way
They say that behind every great athlete is a great coach; behind every great film, a great director. By that logic, behind every great Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP) project, is a great business plan.
Fiscal year 2020 was marked by achievement for JHCP’s finance team: they made successful use of the new Johns Hopkins Medicine financial decision support system, EPSi, improved benchmarking capabilities and re-projected financial targets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But one accomplishment that could impact the organization for years to come is the enhancement and acceleration of business planning and modelling.
"There’s a lot of effort and information that go into these plans, and with so many under our belt in such quick succession, we feel like we’re ahead of the curve."
Improvement in the process was born from necessity; beginning in the previous fiscal year and lasting throughout FY 2020, the finance department worked on fourteen business plans. These included new practice openings in Urbana and Brandywine, expansions at Hagerstown and Germantown and Green Spring Station’s practice relocation. “There’s a lot of effort and information that go into these plans, and with so many under our belt in such quick succession, we feel like we’re ahead of the curve,” says chief financial officer Jim Clauter. “Each time a business plan is developed and completed, it informs our future business plans and our models become more and more accurate.” This is because the team is able to see the actual outcomes in comparison to the expectations that are in the plans and are able to enhance the data upon which the planning models are based.
What exactly is a business plan, and what is its role in project management? Assistant director of decision support, Angela Temple, who spends much of her time developing JHCP’s business plans, explains that “when there is a new idea, we need to lay out what the financial ramifications will be.” The ultimate goal is to be able to present accurate data to leadership to make “go or no-go” decisions. From office expansions, to new lines of service, to implementation of new technology into practice, business planning and modelling is a major step in the approval process for all of JHCP’s significant projects, Temple says.
It is a major step, and a complex one. For example, projections of revenues and expenses in a new practice build plan are determined by many factors including assumptions for patient demand, the importance of brand name recognition in the specific area, estimated encounters, ease of provider recruitment, payor mix, staffing costs, and much, much more pages and pages of synthesized data. “This process is always supported by a group,” Temple says, “there is a constant feedback loop with external stakeholders like Johns Hopkins Real Estate and the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians, and internal JHCP stakeholders such as project leads, practice operations and regional leaders and executive leadership.”
After working on so many plans during FY 2020, Clauter and Temple say that the business planning process will only continue to be streamlined. “Our modelling tools have improved, and we have a much better understanding of what data we need, and where to pull it from,” Temple says. The business planning process will continue to evolve in support of JHCP growth and innovation to meet our mission of providing patient-centered care.