The environment analysis and TOWS matrix both contribute to creating a strategic plan for an organization since they synthesize the factors that influence the operations. The external components of an industry (such as major trends) are crucial to consider when designing a strategic plan for a company. TOWS matrix is a convenient tool that Anthem Blue Cross can utilize since it links the mentioned aspects and summarizes possible outcomes. Telehealth is an industry created by innovation, and it will evolve through new technological advancements, which is the main component of further development. The purpose of this paper is to create a draft of the strategic plan for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield by analyzing the TOWS matrix.
TOWS Matrix: Analyzing Organizational Structure
Recent strategy findings are related to approaches that help analyze data and utilize it for the development plan. Shaffi (2015) states that managers should consider three essential factors: the probability of something occurring, the scale of its impact, and detection time. Thus, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield should review the changes that may occur in the telehealth industry and tailor its strategies to ensure the appropriate response.
Furthermore, the current healthcare environment requires lean approaches to operations, which should be an objective for a care provider (Balle, Morgan, & Sobek, 2016). Lean practices will allow Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to operate as a financially effective organization. Additionally, according to Drotz and Poksinska (2014), the approach will have a positive influence on how the company’s employees perceive their work duties and responsibilities. Table 1 presents the TOWS matrix that utilizes the mentioned approaches and analyses possible opportunities for development.
|Opportunities (O)||Threats (T)|
|Telehealth is a new division of healthcare||New technology requires investments in hardware|
|Technology advancements provide better ways to access patients||The company has to adjust its policies under new laws|
|The U.S is experiencing a lack of medical professionals (and the trend will continue)||Cost reduction approaches should be utilized|
|Legislative initiatives require changes in operations||Increasing competition between telehealth providers will result in emergence rival companies|
|Strengths (S)||SO Strategies||ST Strategies|
|Anthem Blue Cross is a large organization operating across the US||Anthem Blue Cross can utilize its existing structure to expand telehealth program||Existing branches and their management strategy will ensure proper implementation of the new technology|
|Telehealth offers healthcare services at lower costs||The cost reduction that is a consequence of the program will help adhere to new laws||Developing telehealth will provide additional cost reduction for Anthem Blue Cross|
|The program provides access to health care specialists for people regardless of their location (for example for rural population)||Telehealth can employ the current personnel of Anthem Blue Cross to care for a more significant number of patients (when compared to traditional hospitals)||The well-known brand of the company and early development of the telehealth strategies will ensure that it establishes itself as a health care provider|
|Open Access Network Model allows controlling cooperation between branches||Proper management of the company’s branches will allow it to explore the opportunities of the new industry||The current management approach will ensure that legislative changes are carried out properly|
|Weaknesses (W)||WO Strategies||WT Strategies|
|It is unclear how much money was invested in the telehealth program||The sector of telehealth is developing; thus there is an opportunity to establish Anthem Blue Cross as a primary provider||Cost reduction that will be a consequence of further telehealth development will ensure that the company profits from the investments|
|Additional spending on new technology may be required to expand the program||There is an opportunity to develop a large network of telehealth establishments ensuring return on investments in the long-term perspective||Increased competition and requirement to finance the strategy may be difficult to execute|
|The staff members may resist shifting towards telehealth||The need for implementing new technology should convince the personnel that the change is inevitable||The personnel will be trained on technology utilization to ensure they understand proper approaches to the new trend within the healthcare industry|
|New scorecards are necessary to represent the benchmarks within telemedicine||Scorecards are a legislative requirement that helps track the healthcare establishment’s performance (which can help adjust its efficiency)||Developing scorecards and training staff members will ensure that Anthem Blue Shield Blue Cross has a competitive advantage over other healthcare providers|
Table 1. TOWS Matrix for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Program.
Strategic Organizational Plan for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
Prioritizing human resource development is a key to strategic planning. According to Balle et al. (2016) “operational excellence is not achieved by just applying so-called “lean” practices to every process” (para. 3). More importantly, the company should focus on ensuring that the personnel it employs is highly trained and professional. By doing so, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield will counteract possible weaknesses of the plan, such as resistance from staff members to utilize new technology. In addition, it will ensure that the company can achieve a competitive advantage by hiring and further educating the best specialists in the industry.
Service domain of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield should focus on expanding the telehealth program, offering accessible care for patients (for example, through smartphone applications). The market domain should focus on providing healthcare services conducted by highly educated and trained professionals. Thus, the primary objective of marketing should be to present personnel of the establishment as being equally qualified to give medical advice when compared to regular physicians. Through this, the company will occupy the niche of healthcare that will be developing in the future together with new technology.
The level of investment will be defined by analyzing the number of staff members participating in additional education. However, according to Prajogo (2016), human capital is an essential aspect of service innovation. Therefore, the investments are justified. In addition, developing new technological solutions (smartphone applications) will require hiring contractors. Thus, Anthem Blue Cross will need to provide extensive financial support for the strategic development plan implementation.
Positioning approach for achieving the competitive advantage of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield should focus on the quality of services. Due to the fact that medical personnel represents the organization on a daily basis through communication with patients, the company should invest in educational programs that will ensure the provision of the best quality services. According to Sheffi (2015) “detecting the potential for disruption to your business — ideally before that disruption occurs can help you reduce its negative impact” (para. 6).
To eliminate risks and, thus, increase strengths of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield’s competitive advantage, the company should invest in strategies that would support the appropriate work ethic within the organization. This approach will ensure that employees can respond to any unpredicted difficulties. Therefore, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield should invest in employee education that would aim at expanding medical knowledge and general skills (such as leadership, technology use, and communication).
The implementation of the positioning approach should be conducted through new policies and marketing strategy. Firstly, the educational programs should be introduced to the personnel to ensure they are willing to participate in the development. Then, the customers of Anthem Blue Cross should be informed about the approach that the company is taking to its services. Thus, high quality and easy access should be the focus of the positioning strategy.
Competencies and assets that will help gain a competitive advantage for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield are varied. Most importantly, the company has an existing telehealth program that functions appropriately. Thus, there is the basic knowledge of how to implement and ensure the efficient functioning of new technical solutions. In addition, the establishment has professionals that are trained to assist personnel with technology.
Thus, employees can be utilized to implement new technological solutions. Furthermore, the current branches that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield has across the country provide an infrastructure for future development. The recommended organizational structure and design for the establishment should focus on applying more technological solutions to patient-physician communication. The need for more information technology specialists is evident since they ensure that the technological approach is carried out correctly.
The current structure of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is not typical for a traditional hierarchy; thus, it is a flat matrix organization. Traditional hierarchy model is not designed to respond to environmental changes, while a flat matrix can be more appropriate for the task (Khurosani, 2013). The company has recently shifted towards a strategic business unit (SBU) organizational structure (“Press release,” n.d.) to respond to demands of the industry effectively. The approach is adequate as it allows the company’s units to operate independently and respond to market changes more quickly.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield can adapt even more decentralized approach by applying adhocracy. According to Khurosani (2013), formalities in it are minimized, and delivering innovation to customers is the primary objective. The author states that such structure supports creativity among workers, thus providing them with motivation and inspiration to perform better. The approach aligns with Anthem Blue Cross’s goals as the establishment strives to utilize technology for delivering high-quality healthcare services to people.
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Prajogo, D. (2016). Human capital, service innovation advantage, and business performance: The moderating roles of dynamic and competitive environments. International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 36(9), 974-994. Web.
Press release. (n.d.). Web.
Khurosani, A. (2013). Adhocracy culture support and leader’s working creativity. International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, 3(4), 441-415. Web.
Sheffi, Y. (2015). Preparing for disruptions through early detection. MIT Sloan Management Review, 57(1), 31-42.