Before embarking on a plan to make change in a health care setting, you first need a clear perspective on where you are now, and the benefits and challenges of your current environment. A good assessment will include both an INTERNAL evaluation of your organization and an EXTERNAL review of the conditions in which your organization is operating.

There are many methods that will help you get the information you need to shape and choose your course of action. Given the speed of change in today’s health systems, it is critical that these analyses are done quickly, with the understanding that conditions will inevitably evolve and present new opportunities and challenges. In fact, you should expect to repeat your assessment during the course of your practice or policy change effort. A few methods that you can explore and choose from are included below.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the organization, and opportunities and threats can be thought of as external. A SWOT analysis teases out not only what belongs in each category, but also how these factors interact with each other.

Stonybrook University Medical Center has an explanation of SWOT and a comprehensive example of how its team used SWOT in a healthcare setting. You can download it for free here

The IOA Model
This assessment method examines a variety of factors in four areas: External Environment, Organizational Performance, Organizational Capacity, Organizational Motivation. The model also helps you evaluate how these areas influence each other. To learn more about this model, you can dowload this free e-book: Organizational Assessment: A Framework for Improving Performance.

Burke & Litwin Model
Burke and Litwin present a model of organizational improvement that revolves around 12 dimensions, and provides hypothesis on the cause-and-effect relationships between internal and external factors. The model also links what can be understood from practice to what is known from research and theory. You can find more information on this model at, a site designed to help non-profit and government organizations improve their performance using organizational assessment.


Additional Resources