By Updated February 04, 2019
Your vision statement is your hope for the future – an inspiring, futuristic thought that’s memorable in its simplicity. You wouldn’t guess it by reading most businesses’ vision statements – including those in health care – as they have a tendency to get overly wordy. But vision statements are supposed to be short. As in, one-sentence short.
They shouldn’t compete with “War and Peace.” It’s not their purpose to tell the story of how the organization came into being. You have other places for histories and bios and other documents like mission statements or company histories can be longer to include some explanatory or back-up material. Keep your health care vision statements short.
Mission Statements vs. Vision Statements
Although they are often used interchangeably, mission and vision statements serve different purposes. A mission statement is what a business defines as its purpose today. They start with words such as, “We are,” “We serve” and “Our purpose is to…”
Vision statements are what you want to see in the future. They’re the big-picture for where your health care company is heading, such as how you hope people will view your organization in the future. Vision statements often start with words such as: “To be known as,” “We hope to” and “We envision…”
Consider these examples of Mayo Clinic’s mission and vision statements:
To inspire hope, and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research.
Mayo Clinic will provide an unparalleled experience as the most trusted partner for health care.
Although Mayo Clinic’s mission statement is short, it describes what it provides today: integrated clinical practice, education and research. It’s fair to say the clinic is also known for also inspiring hope because of its cutting-edge research.
But is the clinic “the most trusted partner for health care”? It’s certainly regarded as among the top health-care providers. But the phrase”the most trusted” is something that they’ll likely never be able to actually claim, because some organizations or individuals likely will name other institutions as their “most trusted.” It’s something Mayo Clinic can reach for, as it will inspire them to do their best. That’s a vision statement.
Dream to Lead
Many health care providers talk about their goal of being the leader. Not just a leader, but the leader. For a health care facility to say they want “to be the leader” is an amorphous goal. The leader of what?
It’s important to follow that with aspirational areas in which you believe your group can someday be the leader. Sound Physicians is a group of hospitals that focuses on improving care while reducing costs, so they emphasize that in their vision statement.
Example, Sound Physicians Vision Statement:
Our vision is to be the unmatched leader in improving quality and reducing the cost of health care for patients in the communities we serve.
Reducing the costs? That’s not something you often see in health care vision statements, but it’s valid for Sound Physicians. Their vision statement isn’t like all the others. It makes them stand out and be remembered.
Health care is one of the industries known for its jargon. You can read and hear it everywhere: in brochures, on websites, and even in person at hospitals and physician offices. Although specialized language may be appropriate in some settings, there’s no room for it in your vision statement.
If you have a vision statement now, check it carefully for jargon. Does it include industry buzz words? Words that are part of the health care lexicon but don’t actually carry much meaning for everyday readers?
Give each vision statement you write the “jargon test.” Since the specific jargon is second nature to you and your associates, ask someone in another field to read it and identify the jargon. It may be quite an eye-opener. Consider these fictitious vision statements with and without jargon:
With Jargon: We strive to rid the world of acute myocardial infarction.
With No Jargon: We strive to rid the world of heart attacks.
Remember Eighth Grade
Your vision statement may be read by potential staff members, investors and patients, to name just a few. All are very different audiences with a wide variety of backgrounds. What your audiences have in common is the attention span and reading level of an eighth grader.
Sure, many have far higher levels of education, but they’re busy, they’re tired, maybe they’re worried, and your vision statement isn’t their main focus. So make it easy for them. Make your statement concise, clear and easy to understand at a glance.
Consider these vision statements from well-known health-oriented and other organizations:
Make-A-Wish: That people everywhere will share the power of a wish.
Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.
ASPCA: That the United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness.