Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

You have been asked to conduct an analysis of your care setting that will result in two potential pathways toward a strategic plan to improve health care quality and safety in your organization, department, team, community project, or other care setting. To accomplish this, you will take two approaches to the analysis:

  1. Complete the discovery and dream phases of an appreciative inquiry (AI) project.
  2. Conduct a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis.

To help ensure that your analysis is well-received, the requester has suggested that you:

  • Present your analysis results in four parts:
    • Part 1: Appreciative Inquiry Discovery and Dream.
    • Part 2: SWOT Analysis.
    • Part 3: Comparison of Approaches.
    • Part 4: Analysis of Relevant Leadership Characteristics and Skills.
  • Your analysis should be 4–7 pages in length.

Note: Remember, you can submit all, or a portion, of your draft plan to Smarthinking for feedback before you submit the final version for this assessment. However, be mindful of the turnaround time for receiving feedback, if you plan on using this free service.

Analysis Requirements

Note: The requirements outlined below correspond to the grading criteria in the scoring guide, so at a minimum, be sure to address each point. In addition, you are encouraged to review the performance level descriptions for each criterion to see how your work will be assessed.

Writing, Supporting Evidence, and APA Style
  • Communicate professionally when conducting interviews and collecting data.
  • Write clearly, with professionalism and respect for stakeholders and colleagues.
  • Integrate relevant sources of evidence to support your assertions.
    • Cite at least 3–5 sources of scholarly or professional evidence.
    • Include relevant interview information.
  • Format your document using APA style. The APA Style Paper Template and associated tutorial, linked in the Resources, are provided for your use. Be sure to include:
    • A title page and reference page. An abstract is not required.
    • A running head on all pages.
    • Appropriate section headings.
    • Properly formatted citations and references.
  • Proofread your writing to minimize errors that could distract readers and make it more difficult to focus on the substance of your analysis.
Part 1: Appreciative Inquiry Discovery and Dream
  • Synthesize stories and evidence about times when a care setting performed at its best with regard to quality and safety goals.
    • Collect stories from your care setting. You may collect stories through interviews or conversations with colleagues or provide your own.
    • Explain how your stories are related to quality and safety goals.
    • Describe the evidence you have that substantiates your stories.
    • Identify the positive themes reflected in your stories.
    • Describe other evidence (for example: data, awards, accreditations) that validates your care setting’s positive core.
  • Propose positive, yet attainable, quality and safety improvement goals for your care setting.
    • Explain how accomplishing these goals will lead to ethical and culturally-sensitive improvements in quality and safety.
    • Explain how your proposed goals align with your care setting’s mission, vision, and values.

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

Part 2: SWOT Analysis
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis of your care setting, with respect to quality and safety goals.
    • Provide a narrative description of your analysis.
    • Identify the assessment tool you used as the basis of your analysis.
    • Describe your key findings and their relationships to quality and safety goals.
  • Describe one area of concern that you identified in your SWOT analysis—relevant to your care setting’s mission, vision, and values—for which you would propose pursuing improvements.
    • Explain how this area of concern relates to your care setting’s mission, vision, and values.
    • Explain why you believe it will be necessary and valuable to pursue improvements related to this area of concern.
Part 3: Comparison of Approaches

Compare the AI and SWOT approaches to analysis and reflect on the results.

  • Describe your mindset when examining your care setting from an AI perspective and from a SWOT perspective.
  • Describe the types of data and evidence you searched for when taking an AI approach and a SWOT approach.
  • Describe the similarities and differences between the two approaches when communicating and interacting with colleagues.
Part 4: Analysis of Relevant Leadership Characteristics and Skills

Analyze the leadership characteristics and skills most desired in the person leading potential performance improvement projects, taking both an AI and SWOT approach.

  • Explain how these characteristics and skills would help a leader facilitate a successful AI-based project and a successful SWOT-based project.
  • Comment on any shared characteristics or skills you identified as helpful for both AI and SWOT approaches.




As you prepare to complete this assessment, you may want to think about other related issues to deepen your understanding or broaden your viewpoint. You are encouraged to consider the questions below and discuss them with a fellow learner, a work associate, an interested friend, or a member of your professional community. Note that these questions are for your own development and exploration and do not need to be completed or submitted as part of your assessment.

One key aspect to being an effective leader, manager, or administrator is an awareness of your leadership strengths, weaknesses, and style.

  • How would you assess your general leadership, communication, and relationship-building skills?
  • How would describe your leadership style?

Imagine the future for a care setting that is your place of practice or one in which you would like to work.

  • What aspirational goals can you envision that would lead to improvements in health care quality and safety?
  • How well do these goals align with the mission, vision, and values of your care setting?



Care Setting Environmental Analysis


Conducting an environmental analysis in the healthcare system is an essential part of the strategic planning process of an organization. This tool helps in identifying the possible external and internal elements that may influence the organization’s operations. It also focuses on determining the risks and opportunities that may be available for the organization and the findings from the analysis are considered during the decision-making process (Phadermrod, Crowder, & Wills, 2019). The environment in which the healthcare sector operates has continuously evolved overtime. Various strategic tools can help to analyze the microenvironment of a business. The primary analysis tools include the PESTLE analysis, SWOT analysis, business tool analysis, and microenvironment analysis. All these tools are critical for the accomplishment of the business. This paper analyzes the ABC Health Clinic based on its strategic development, including the discovery and dream phases of an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) project and a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of the healthcare institution.

Part 1: Appreciative Inquiry Discovery and Dream

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) represents one of the critical change methods that promise to energize quality management in the healthcare sector. According to MacCoy (2014), whatever the situation one encounters, the first step is always to discover and disclose the situation’s positive capacity. The aim of this stage is to find emphasis and highlight all factors that have led to success in similar cases. The best way to discover the best method is to first look at the peak experiences. However, one should also look at what touches his or her heart and spirit and what motivates him or her to view reality from a different perspective (Bertram, Gilbert, & Culver, 2016). On the other hand, dreaming entails the act of focusing on the possibility of what could be, rather than the limiting factors. In dreams, a person is focused on seeing and understanding things in a new way.


In healthcare organizations, quality management often seems more like a burden than an opportunity for growth. Such is the situation at ABC Health Clinic. Interviews were conducted among the clinic’s staff who gave their stories about their journey in the hospital. Most of the doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff, about 82 percent, indicated that they were satisfied with their departments of work and the duties assigned to them. They further stated that they were motivated to work in the hospital. Some of the factors that they highlighted as their motivators to work in the hospital included remuneration, working conditions, engagement by the management, and flexible work schedules.

It was reported that nurses at ABC cannot do their jobs without collaboration. When they assign beds and the floors push back, it delays the patients from getting to their assigned room. When discharge orders are not made earlier in the day, beds don’t become available until later in the day. All of these factors have to be done in a timely way for ABC to help improve patient flow.

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

Nurses also engage with each other and other departments. There are multiple tasks that are split among nurses. Services such as Cardiac, Surgery, Medicine, and Oncology all have to be distributed among several nurses to make sure the hospital’s entire bed board is covered. For patients that are being admitted, nurses work closely together to ensure the patients get appropriate services. Therefore, in order to ensure efficient patient flow, nurses work together. Although each nurse may have individual tasks to perform, the tasks are interrelated and a lot of time they have to collaborate to ensure everything runs smoothly and avoid delays.

In the Dream phase of AI analysis, the findings provided an outlook on the future of ABC on its commitment to patient safety goals. The future of ABC improvement processes is ongoing. The organization will be switching over to a new EMR, which is supposed to make interdepartmental data tracking and patient charting seamless. ABC is also looking to increase staffing and possibly changing locations to a larger office.

Part 2: SWOT Analysis

ABC Health Clinic is a healthcare establishment in which many people in Area B seek medical services. The clinic was established in 1991 and has experienced growth since then. The institution has various units such as the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), the emergency department, burn center, the pediatric department, and many others. People in the area visit the hospital to seek emergency services and other small health issues. Outstandingly, the hospital has some of the most experienced doctors in the area who deliver competent medical attention and treatment plans to their patients’ satisfaction.

ABC’s SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a standard study tool used to determine the internal strengths and weaknesses of an organization, as well as its external opportunities and risks (Phadermrod et al., 2019). The strengths of any organization account for the positive aspects of the brand. For instance, in our case, ABC’s strengths make it one of the most favorable hospitals in the area.


ABC has many capabilities that gives it a huge advantage over the other health care organizations in the state. Examples include the following:

Reputation: The hospital is a nationally recognized healthcare center and exceeds many national benchmarks for safety. This is because of the quality care that ABC offers its’ patients. ABC analyzes trends, such as how long it takes a patient to be admitted, how long physicians spend with patients and the average response time for a transport order. This has positively impacted the emergency department and the organization’s patient safety goals for decreasing wait times and patients leaving without receiving medical care.

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

Highly qualified and experienced doctors and staff- Doctors and other staff in the hospital are what make the facility the most preferred choice for the people in the area. The hospital has a very complex employment process, which ensures that it hires the most qualified doctors and other hospital staff. This strength is one of the most critical factors that distinguish ABC from other hospitals, not only in the area but also in the entire region.

Brand name- ABC has, over the years, established itself as the most desirable hospital in the area since 1991. It has become popular, not only among the local people but also across the whole region. People travel for hundreds of kilometers to seek medical services at ABC. This brand name has been built through many years of hard work and dedication.

High-quality medical services-This is another positive aspect of the ABC Health Clinic. The two departments that have contributed to this popularity are the emergency department and outpatient section. Most of the emergences in the region are referred to as the ABC Clinic, including road accidents and burns. Other departments have contributed to this popularity, including the ICU, pediatric, and cancer departments.


According to Phadermrod, Crowder, and Wills (2019), weaknesses refer to the downside in a brand’s services. Although ABC does not have many shortcomings, it has some significant ones that can affect its performance.

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

A decentralized organizational vision for throughput limits ABC’s goal for improving patient flow for patient safety in the emergency department. Patient flow is not only reliant on ED processes, but is also greatly dependent on occupied inpatient beds. Earlier discharges would alleviate extended wait times for patients in the ED. Until patient flow becomes a central idea to the organization, patient safety due to the long length of stay will remain an unresolved issue.

The high cost of medical services-One of the critical weaknesses of the healthcare facility is its high cost of medical services. Since the clinic has been operational for many years, it is supposed to have addressed the problem of high prices. Even though it provides high-quality services, it should give them at an affordable cost. Some of the services, such as cancer treatment, are provided at costs that are unreachable by many people in the area. This is an issue that the clinic may consider with utmost seriousness since it is located in an area where most people are medium-income earners.

Inadequate staff – Another weakness is that the clinic has inadequate staff. Considering the number of people that visit the hospital in a day, the ratio of doctor to patients is 1:50. Since there are some patients whose medical conditions require a considerable amount of time, the number of doctors in the hospital cannot adequately cater for all patients.


Many hospitals do not offer some of the services that are offered at ABC Health Clinic. This is most likely the reason why many people travel for long distances to seek medical services at ABC clinic. Some of the services offered include cancer treatment and gynecological services. In order for patient flow to work successfully, ABC needs to change the hospital’s current culture of viewing throughput as the responsibility of the ED to one of a hospital-wide responsibility. Throughput needs to be a system-wide objective of every department involved in patient care from admission to discharge. In order for a culture change to be successful, the management should introduce the changes and train the frontline staff how to follow the new process which would enable the hospital transformation.

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system


In an organization, threats are the external obstacles that stand on the path of its success. The only significant threat for ABC is the new emerging hospitals that are likely to be its competitors in the years to come. Hospitals in the region are increasingly investing in new medical technologies and inventions, and are advancing in terms of service provision. This implies that ABC has to draft strategies to improve its operations and to remain relevant and competitive in the near future. Threats to any healthcare organization with below-average scores in patient safety can affect insurance reimbursement and leave the organization at risk for malpractice lawsuits. A commitment to patient safety is key to avoiding these threats.

Part 3: Comparison of Approaches

The organizational outcomes when SWOT analysis and when AI is used are entirely different. SWOT analysis has a deficient level of engagement compared to AI. The latter collects information by asking questions regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the organization or the issue at hand. It takes into account each set of questions by focusing on more specific areas when collecting diverse perspectives from different members of the team. AI is more result-oriented because it stimulates and encourages positive outcomes (Bertram et Al., 2016).The assumption in this comparison is that the threats and weaknesses are overpowered by the strengths, and that the SWOT analysis in the ABC Clinic is applied the way it is described. The bias in the AI analysis is that it does not consider what the organization should avoid in order to fully uncover the available opportunities.

On the contrary, SWOT is more of a balanced analysis that usually generalizes. Also, the model focuses more on the failures than the achievements. For ABC Clinic, focusing on the negatives may deprive it of its confidence, thus destroying the inspirational vision to work (Bertram, Gilbert, & Culver, 2016). The data collected in the AI approach has led to the focus on positive aspects of the departments as well as on how the staff felt about their job and their contribution to patient safety goals. ABC aims to create a command center, Patient Placement Operation Center (PPOC), a nurse-driven department and serving as patient flow specialists that identify where beds are free and where incoming patients should be placed. These specialists will oversee housekeeping to ensure new beds are ready for patients and coordinate with the transport team tasked with moving patients around the hospital where staff members can more efficiently oversee patient flow. Thus, ABC would reduce patient long wait times and patients leaving without receiving medical attention which creates quality and safety issues for the patients. The patient safety throughput initiatives will ensure improvements in quality care, patient satisfaction and financial returns.

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

Moreover, with the growing emphasis on evidence-based practices (EBP), uncertainty has become a major factor affecting the healthcare setting. Uncertainty is the main drive for medical researchers, patients’ pursuit for medical care, and medical interventions. However, despite its impact on healthcare, there is still minimal knowledge on how to address the effects it has on the stakeholders of the health sector. These knowledge gaps include the uncertainties encountered by patients and clinicians, the effects of communication barriers, and how to assist them in dealing with the uncertainties. A fundamental way to address the knowledge gaps would be drafting an empirical evidence framework that integrates the concept of uncertainty from various disciplines.

Part 4: Analysis of Relevant Leadership Characteristics and Skills

Leadership is an important aspect, especially in healthcare organizations. Although it is not fundamentally taught in medical schools, hospital leaders are expected to demonstrate high-quality leadership skills to lead their healthcare organizations to success (De Zulueta, 2016). ABC Health Clinic recognizes the importance of engaging its staff in leadership roles. During the interviews, one of the nurses at ABC indicated that every staff in the clinic could lead a team in his or her respective area. This was because the management of the hospital had an obligation to provide its staff with opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

Environmental analysis in the healthcare system

Team leaders were found to have high-quality leadership skills, primarily through their communication. Communication skills promote an understanding between the leaders and their subordinates and between the management and employees (Bertram, Gilbert, & Culver, 2016). ABC staffs are also trained in team-building skills. The group meetings that were conducted to obtain information for the present paper revealed that no staff member dominates others during conversation, implying that each staff member has excellent team-building skills.


The target market for every organization keeps evolving on a daily basis. Technological advancement and the environment are the critical situational factors that mostly determine the outcomes and relevance of an organization against its competitors. Therefore, organizations such as the ABC Health Clinic may incorporate either the AI or SWOT analysis tools to assess its internal and external factors, and draft the best strategies that will aid in realization of objectives. ABC has an opportunity to expand its operations and open branches in other areas to take its services closer to consumers.  However, the organization needs to increase the number of staff to reduce burnout and stress among nurses.  Other motivators for nurses that should be maintained by the company include remuneration, working conditions, engagement by the management, and flexible work schedules.




Bertram, R., Gilbert, W., & Culver, D. (2016). Using appreciative inquiry to create high-impact coach learning: Insights from a decade of applied research. Practitioner. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303518470_Using_Appreciative_Inquiry_to_Create_High-_Impact_Coach_Learning_Insights_From_a_Decade_of_Applied_Research

De Zulueta, P. C. (2016). Developing compassionate leadership in health care: an integrative review. Journal of healthcare leadership8, 1. Doi:10.2147/jhl.s68068

Phadermrod, B., Crowder, R. M., & Wills, G. B. (2019). Importance-performance analysis-based SWOT analysis. International Journal of Information Management44, 194-203. Doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2016.07.001

MacCoy, D. (2014). Appreciative Inquiry and Evaluation – Getting to What Works. Retrieved from https://evaluationcanada.ca/secure/29-2-104_2WUY4UN3XR.pdf



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