During the afternoon of June 16th, we held Strategic Planning Workshop with members to kick-start the process for developing EFA Strategic Plan 2015-2020. Members considered EFA’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), ideal added value of EFA to their organization and developed in three breakout groups EFA’s broad strategic goals and key actions for these goals (1) Access to good quality care, (2) Safe environment and (3) Participation: Patient involvement in all decisions influencing their health. This was followed by a plenary session where the groups reported their findings and the united group discussed conclusions and next steps.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) – analysis
The first highlights tell us that diversity among EFA members with increasing numbers, sharing best practices as well as EFA’s technical capacity (EU-level lobbying, advocacy, professionalism) were mentioned by all three different groups one of EFA’s strengths. The areas we need to develop further among others relate to the language barrier (communications and translations).
The future opportunities listed for EFA were taken into account and were considered a means to better meet the needs of the members. The request for a strategic approach, horizontal working groups and the idea of creating partnerships and synergies with other patient- and patient focused associations in order to strengthen our scope, were some of the key elements that came out. However, caution was also recommended in creating these partnerships.
Perceived key and ideal added value of EFA for members’ organizations
According to members, EFA brings EU-level Advocacy and influencing of policy making (at a European level) to the table by acting as a dedicated interlocutor to policy makers and the media.
EFA’s action helps members’ organizations by conducting projects in order to create an impact at national level and increase their visibility at EU level. The evidence that is gained by both EFA projects and involvement in EU projects is beneficial by ensuring credibility towards health care professionals and by providing a scientific backbone to further raise awareness and visibility.
Members also value the opportunity to share experiences among themselves in order to increase knowledge (on best practices) and to develop a sense of solidarity among EFA’s membership, strengthening each other by being part of the EFA-community.
Although it was admitted by some members that colleagues at the national level tend to focus only on national issues, EFA members continue to perceive the organisation as an important support mechanism for their work at national level. Through complementary actions at the national and European levels, EFA members hope to prove they can use European actions and initiatives by EFA to achieve their future national-level objectives.
EFA is pleased that this effort was warmly welcomed by the members. Not only did the evaluations show us that 92% of participants considered this to be a useful exercise, but all of them also indicated that their expectations were met. We did notice that 1 of 3 participants did consider it to require too much effort from their part.
We will keep our readers posted how our strategic planning process develops, with EFA Strategy Committee of members.