How GPs and specialists can plan their future with four questions

Facts and Figures from the German Health Care System

What it’s all about

Few practising doctors are familiar with developing strategies for their practice operations. Yet four simple questions and their answers are sufficient for this purpose.

Practice strategy: Two worlds of interpretation

Interpretations of the term „strategic thinking“ vary widely among practising physicians: for some it is a coffee-ground-based poking in the fog, for others an art that only a few have mastered.

Promoting proactive action

But both interpretations inadequately describe the essence and, above all, the implementation. Strategic thinking describes a forward-looking basic attitude. This involves trying to anticipate the consequences of actions or developments in their effects by forming assumptions, condensing them into hypotheses and deriving scenarios. The aim is not to have to passively adapt the practice work to the prevailing circumstances, but to be able to act actively and with foresight.

How successful practice owners act

One management principle of above-average successful practice owners therefore consists of regularly obtaining a qualitative overview – in addition to analysing the financial situation,

  • where their company stands, i.e. what the framework of conditions for their work looks like and
  • how it can be developed.

The instrument for obtaining such an overview quickly and easily is the „SWOT analysis“.

The essence of SWOT analysis

Its name is composed of the letters

  • „S“ for „Strengths“,
  • „W“ for „Weaknesses“,
  • O for Opportunities, and T for Threats.
  • T“ for „Threats“.

together. The status determination is thus

  • both to the present (current strengths and weaknesses of the activity) and the future
  • as well as to the future (as yet unused opportunities or threats and risks to be considered).

SWOT in the Convenience Analysis

For the implementation, general practitioners and specialists usually resort to the validated Valetudo Check-up© „SWOT“, which is suitable for all specialities. It offers in a complete package

  • all materials required for such a status determination,
  • their evaluation and
  • a detailed SWOT expertise with a plan of action.

For this purpose, the view of the practice owner(s) is compared with that of the staff and the patients. In this way, in addition to the four primary questions, it becomes apparent

  • whether the practice team is „pulling in the same direction“ or whether differences of opinion impair the work,
  • how differentiated the staff members are in their thoughts about the current and future practice situation (innovation potential),
  • to what extent the view of the practice corresponds with the patient’s opinion, and
  • which short- and medium-term adjustments, improvements or changes in the practice work are necessary.

Moreover, the aspects collected in the SWOT headings can be considered in their combinations and the resulting strategic opportunities:

  • the „Expand“ scenario emerges from the combination of strengths and opportunities,
  • weaknesses and risks condense the „avoid“ perspective,
  • the combination of weaknesses and opportunities results in the option „catch up“, and
  • the combination of strengths and risks indicates the strategy „hedge“.

Simplicity and effortlessness to congestion

The Valetudo Check-up© „SWOT“ was developed with a view to quick processing and examines the following questions:

doctor/physicians and MFA

  • In your opinion, what are the three greatest strengths of your practice company?
  • In your opinion, what are the 3 greatest weaknesses?
  • In your opinion, what are the three greatest threats?
  • What do you think are the three biggest opportunities for your practice?
  • What five specific improvements / changes, if realised, could make your work easier and further increase the success of the practice?


  • What did you like most during your stay at our practice?
  • Was there anything you were annoyed about?
  • Are there any other things that we should fundamentally change?
  • Supplemented by a survey on the willingness to recommend us to others.

The service package

The Valetudo Check-up© „SWOT“ offers practice owners a full service package

  • Provision of the analysis documents (copy template) and instructions in PDF format
  • Collection of data from the incoming completed questionnaires( max. 100 patient questionnaires)
  • Data evaluation
  • Preparation of a result report (SWOT expertise) with operative and strategic recommendations for action
  • Sending the report as a PDF by e-mail