Introduction to the theory of research hospitals (series 2): strategy for research hospitals
Review Article

Introduction to the theory of research hospitals (series 2): strategy for research hospitals

Jun Yao1, Tian Gao2

1Chinese Research Hospital Association, Beijing 100039, China; 2Department of Performance Management, Jinan Central Hospital Affiliated with Shandong University, Jinan 250013, China

Contributions: (I) Conception and design: All authors; (II) Administrative support: All authors; (III) Provision of study materials or patients: All authors; (IV) Collection and assembly of data: All authors; (V) Data analysis and interpretation: All authors; (VI) Manuscript writing: All authors; (VII) Final approval of manuscript: All authors.

Correspondence to: Jun Yao. Chinese Research Hospital Association, Beijing 100039, China. Email:

Abstract: Strategy refers to the “scheme” adopted by the competitive organization, which is a means for achieving the expected goal of the organization. Strategy is the embodiment of hospital operation and management thoughts, and plays an important role in the hospital operation and management activities. “Strategy decides success or failure” for the leadership and “detail decides success or failure” for the operational level. Even if the details are perfect, it will be powerless without a correct strategy. The hospital must develop scientific strategic planning and choose a suitable development model to keep a sustainable competitive advantage.

Keywords: Development strategy; research hospitals; strategy

Received: 04 August 2016; Accepted: 06 September 2016; Published: 25 October 2016.

doi: 10.21037/jrh.2016.09.01

The characteristics of the development strategy of research hospitals

There is a close relationship between the development strategy and the core competitiveness of research hospitals

Technical innovation is the driving force to build the research hospital, it is also the key to form and develop the core competitiveness of the hospital. Talent is the core of the research hospital and the carrier of the hospital core competitiveness. The process of building the research hospital is also a process of establishing, enhancing and applying the hospital core competitiveness. The hospital performance is finally reflected from the hospital core competitiveness also depends on the high level of achievement formed during the process of building research hospitals (Figure 1).

Figure 1 The relationship between the research hospital and the core competitiveness.

The development orientation of the research hospital

Scientific orientation is the fundamental basis and an important prerequisite for the sustainable and healthy development of the research hospital. According to the background and development situation of the current research hospital and the successful experience of the research university, the development orientation of the research hospital should attach great importance to the following requirements.

Science advocated and innovation oriented

The academics are the center and the scientific research is particularly important for the research hospital. The essence of building the research hospital core competitiveness is technology innovation and application. The core technology of a hospital will evolve into a general technology over time; hence, the hospital should continue to carry out technical innovation. The stronger technical innovation ability the hospital has, the higher-level medical technology and service and the stronger market competition ability the hospital will have.

Cultivating talents and focusing on learning

Building the research hospital needs a group with outstanding talent to build an innovative research and innovation team with reasonable structure. Therefore, research hospitals should establish their own unique talents training model and strengthen their learning and innovation.

Rooted in society, paying attention to service

Like the research universities, the formation of research hospitals mainly is the product of the close combination of hospital and social culture and the scientific technology field and meeting the social and market needs. As a service industry, the hospitals product is health and it needs to establish the excellent whole staff service principle. If the research hospital wants to contribute to the society, it must provide special medical technology and service according to the actual situation, and continue to provide high quality health services for patients.

Strategic countermeasures

Building a talented ecological environment with the first-class talent as the core

Building research hospitals must have academic masters. Currently, most hospitals have the problems of lacking domestic and international famous academic masters, a lack of worthy successors and the brain drain, etc. Therefore, the hospital must explore a variety of ways to introduce overseas well-known potential young scholars to enrich its research and teaching team to attract the best people to the hospital and to achieve the internationalization, high-level and diversification of the talent team. At the same time, according to the phenomenon of arranging in order of seniority, disregarding principle and communal pot, the hospital should create a relaxed academic atmosphere and fair competition mechanism to make the talent flow through the effect of the mechanism.

Taking the system innovation as the core to build a modern hospital system

Building the research hospital requires system innovation and culture innovation.

With a reasonable, efficient and innovative system as the guarantee to create a system of innovation atmosphere through system design, the research hospital is able to realize its strategic goal.

Taking the subject adjustment as basis to construct a high level of discipline platform

The discipline level is one of the major indexes to reflect the level of a hospital. In addition to having a comprehensive and wide range of disciplines, more importantly, many famous research hospitals have a number of unique and world class disciplines. However, implementing the development strategy of the research hospital should firstly adjust and strengthen discipline construction. It should aim at the world class disciplines target to adjust the strategic structure of the existing disciplines through breaking department walls and optimizing and recombining departments within the hospital to build a superior discipline group and interdisciplinary research center, promote the integration of cross disciplinary and exert the comprehensive advantages of disciplines. The research hospital can enhance the characteristic and the brand of the discipline platform and improve the awareness of the hospital.

Implementing the refocusing strategy

The refocusing strategy requires the hospital to concentrate superior resources in vigorously developing the key disciplines and technology, making the key disciplines “greater, more precise, stronger” through a intensification development path. Hospital restructuring is the main way of implementing it. The purpose of hospital restructuring is to optimize the allocation of resources to build superior discipline groups.

Virtual operation

Virtual operation is only to operate the discipline that has preponderant position, take out the discipline that is incapable, lacking strength or advantage to enter into alliance or cooperation with others to maintain a sustainable competitive advantage through the integration of internal and external resources, making up for its own advantage and expanding the market space. The implementation model can be using virtual personnel, expanding virtual function and building a virtual hospital.

Technology innovation

The research hospital can make up the existing resources and competitiveness value; reduce the gap between the resources required by future potential medical opportunities and competitiveness. It has four basic models: first is the independent innovation model; second is the cooperative innovation model; third is the imitative innovation model; fourth is the virtual innovation model.

Blue ocean strategy

The research hospital can break the medical market boundary limiting their competition to discover and create a blue ocean. Particularly, the hospital can explore the blue ocean through focusing on technology innovation of replacement products, reflecting the patients needs in the customer chain, learning virtual operation in complementary products, shaping hospital culture in the emotion function and looking to the future to implement contingency strategies.

Hospital and enterprise joint venture medical treatment center

The hospital can use enterprises’ strong economic capital, advanced technology and equipment resources to set up joint venture medical treatment centers with a medical investment management company, which can integrate the new diagnostic and therapeutic technology to carry out external medical services based on the stem cell therapy, biological target therapy, tissue regeneration and repair, precise microsurgery and other medical frontiers, thus realizing the promotion of health security ability on the basis of reciprocity and win-win.

Knowledge management

The implementation steps of hospital knowledge management is to attach importance to the development of tacit knowledge, let more people to share the experience knowledge such as individual experience and expert skills through knowledge mining; the hospital can increase the hospital knowledge reserve in a variety of ways and translate the knowledge into the hospital’s technology and service.

Constructing diagnosis and treatment services information platform

Informatization is the important content of the construction of research hospitals. To build a fully functional integrated information platform has become an important means of research hospital construction.

Strengthening the hospital and enterprise cooperation to promote the transformation and application of research achievements

An important function of the research hospital is to conduct medical research for disease diagnosis and treatment. The research results of medical science and technology personnel need to carry out transformation research with the help of R & D technologies and the platform edge of the enterprises. The research hospital can promote the transformation of medical research achievements to the market so as to realize the expansion of treatment means and the improvement of the technology level and bring huge economic benefits through the joint development of new medical equipment, clinical technology, innovative drugs etc.

Absorbing and using of international resources

The research hospital can promote the training of research talents, accelerate the technical progress of clinical diagnosis and treatment and improve the level of clinical translational research through international cooperation.

The formulation of the research hospital strategy

The formulation of the research hospital strategy includes the assessment of the strategic situation, the formulation of strategic objectives and strategic projects selection, etc. (see Figure 2).

Figure 2 The management process of hospital development strategy.

Research hospital strategy evaluation and control

Factors influencing the research hospital strategy

The research hospital is a system that has a certain function. The strategic foothold of the research of hospital, its core competitiveness, is also a complicated and pluralistic system. The relationship between each element in the system is interrelated, which constitutes an integral whole. Generally the influence factors of the core competitiveness of a research hospital strategy from the perspective of the operation processes of the research hospital are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 Influence factors of research hospital core competitiveness.

The characteristics and principles of strategic control

Strategic control should highlight five characteristics

Highlight the research in control of the strategic goals

The research of hospital strategic control should highlight the research on targets, emphasizing and highlighting the importance of scientific research in the hospital future development, creating a research atmosphere and quantifying the construction indexes of both software and hardware.

Highlight the technicality in the strategic control method

Academic research is an important scale and method of research hospital sustainable development. Strategic control is complicated system engineering. The research hospital should carry out a careful study on strategic control based on the actual situation of the hospital, so as to make it feasible.

Highlight the human nature in the strategic control body

If research hospitals want to become effective competitors and successfully implement strategic control, it should be people-oriented to take the initiative of all levels of management and medical personnel and highlight doctor’s outstanding main body status.

Highlight the long-term orientation in the process of strategic control

The research hospital is an integrated and symbiotic organization with medical services, teaching and scientific research that all three have their inherent role. These characteristics and roles determine the control processes of research hospital development strategy, which should consider the overall objectives based on long-term considerations.

Highlight the leading position in strategic control results

One of the focal issues of research hospital strategic control is to monitor the hospital’s ability to play to their own strengths and use external opportunities, maximally avoid the convergence phenomenon and make unique leading achievements.

Strategic control should adhere to five principles

Research lead principle

Research lead is mainly that the research hospital’s strategic control considers first whether the research status of the hospital has been consolidated and improved. Then the research hospital focuses on this to test whether the hospital contracted research projects have made progress, whether the research ability of doctors is improved, whether the research facilities are improved, whether the research funding is abundant, etc.

Target identification principle

Target identification refers to whether the target of the strategic control of research hospitals can get the hospital personnel’s understanding and support and put its heart and soul into investment in the implementation process. Target identification can provide the mass basis and the fundamental power for strategic control. The research hospital should ensure as far as possible that the strategic control objectives and measures can get a high recognition and full support from the hospital staff in the strategic control process, so as to lay a good mass foundation and thought foundation for promoting the strategic control.

Constructing hospital through highlighting its characteristic

The characteristics of research hospitals can be formed and reflected in multi-levels and multi-aspects. The research hospital must make a choice according to their own actual situation and the characteristics of construction. If the research hospital wants to win the market competition, it must be creative in research, achieve a breakthrough in the professional field and be innovative in the management.

Contingency innovation principle

Only the strategic control of research hospital can adapt to changes in the environment and carry out contingency innovation. It can effectively use the opportunities in the change to avoid the threat and obtain the initiative to compete.

Feedback and correction principle

The implementation of research hospital strategy usually consists of a series of medium-term and short-term action plans. It must carry out strict inspection of the research hospital strategy and its implementation in stages and timely make the necessary adjustments to ensure reaching the research hospital’s strategic intent.

Research hospital construction model

Research hospital construction model refers to the general path of the hospital development process from its establishment to construction. Hospitals can be divided into large hospitals, special hospitals and small hospitals according to the different development scales. The hospitals with different scales have different modes to build the research hospital.

To build the research hospital in large hospitals

Large hospitals generally refer to the third-grade class A hospitals with 2,000 (or above 1,500 beds). Large hospitals should aim at the world class level to establish themselves as the research hospitals with sophisticated medical technology, abundant scientific research strength and first-class teaching through vigorously carrying out translational medicine.

It aims at establishing a comprehensive base to construct complicated disease diagnosis and treatment base, high-tech research and development base and a high level clinical medical personnel training base.

The research hospital should use the innovative development mode as the means to achieve the development from “the experience of the medical model” to “the transformation of the medical model”. It should set up the sub-specialty, special disease center and multiple disease diagnosis and treatment center, and explore the optimized clinical path, methods, and diagnosis and treatment processes to form the unique technical advantages and distinctive service brand. It should implement the “medicine tree pattern” with large hospitals as the radiation center. The large hospital centered pattern with the small hospital and community hospital as its affiliated hospital can make full use of the characteristics of large research hospitals and will vigorously promote its latest research achievements. On the one hand, the community hospital can timely refer complex cases to the superior hospital, patients can be promptly sent back to the community hospital after the completion of main therapy. On the other hand, the doctors in large hospitals can perform real-time and effective communication with the doctors in junior hospitals. This pattern is conducive to the reasonable application of medical resources, can minimize the operation cost and improve the medical service level.

Building the research hospital in special hospitals

Highlighting special advantages and expert advantages is the core of building research special hospitals.

(I) To establish a medical, teaching, research and production integrated development strategy with the goal of building the top special hospital in a specialized field. Building research hospitals in special hospitals should focus on its “specialty” to establish a strong brand in the industry division with the finest sub-specialty, the most scale effect and the most distinctive characteristics, to realize the development strategy of building research special hospitals.

(II) To create a strong specialized brand through the mode of “the clinical departments” combining “research departments”. The special hospital should explicitly use its specialty direction to form a distinctive brand with the pattern of “big specialty, small comprehensiveness” to realize the integrated development integrating “clinical demand” and “research direction” around the key problems of its specialty.

(III) To create professional characteristics employing the model of realizing the development integrating clinical work and research. Building the research hospital in special hospitals should achieve the transition from clinical medical service-oriented hospital to academic research-oriented hospital around its specialty and special disease; it should adhere to the personnel training mode of “talent introduction” and “going out to learn” to develop a first-class specialized personnel team and build the research special hospital cultural brand with “big love” as the foundation.

Building the research hospital in small hospitals

The small hospital generally refers to district hospitals or county hospitals in large and medium-sized cities. A second class hospital is the representative of it.

Small hospitals must build the core competitiveness under the pattern of asymmetric innovation to form their own unique competitive advantage. If small hospitals want to remedy the gap in personnel, technology, scale, assets and management models between them and large comprehensive hospitals, it must highlight their own advantages and characteristics to achieve first-class level in one or more unique services to establish the superiority and characteristic that is not easy to be imitated by competitors and ensure the sustainable development of the hospital.

To adhere to the discipline construction model of “doing some things, and leaving some things undone” to build a superior specialties group

The special hospital should develop inter-sectoral links with a high and new technology orientation and encourage collaborative research to form the characteristics and advantages of a subject or a technology in the locality. Meanwhile, it should further borrow strength from the research achievements of large hospitals through being included in their research system to undertaking clinical tasks to gradually improve the overall level of scientific research and enhance the core competitiveness of the hospital.

To build the research hospital under the “hospital chain” mode

A small hospital chain can adopt a protocol or group merger way to realize the “one card consumption” of the patients within the hospital chain scope relying on the modern network information management. Small hospitals in the “chain” mode can use limited resources for the construction of key disciplines, features departments and excellent talents to enhance the core competitiveness through unified and standardized management.


The relationship between the research hospital and the core competitiveness


Conflicts of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

doi: 10.21037/jrh.2016.09.01
Cite this article as: Yao J, Gao T. Introduction to the theory of research hospitals (series 2): strategy for research hospitals. J Res Hosp 2016;1:14.


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