Project Management Approaches in Healthcare


Healthcare and Project Management


By Sunanda Gundavajhala, PMP


Dr. Deepa Bhide, MBBS, DCH, PMP

Hyderabad, India


The use of project management and the benefits of using a project management approach for the successful execution of projects are well known. However, there needs to be more clarity in selecting a project management approach for a specific project. According to the PMBOK® Guide – Seventh Edition, “Development approach is the means used to create or evolve product, service or result during the project life cycle.” Based on the increasing need for iteration, the development approach can be predictive (least iterative) to adaptive (most iterative) with a hybrid in the middle. In the context of this paper, the authors consider the predictive approach to essentially mimic a waterfall approach and the adaptive approach as agile.

This article discusses the selection, application, and benefits of management approaches for healthcare projects – most notably, ensuring quality-driven and timely patient care. It is beyond the scope of this article to discuss the details of each approach and debate if this differentiation between project approaches exists. A project is executed in a specific environment and context, such as a business problem it is supposed to solve. The project manager (PM) is responsible for selecting the most appropriate and available way to achieve the targets and results. A good PM will draw from various approaches, tools, and working methods and use project tailoring approaches to derive the best-fit approach to suit the project’s unique characteristics and context.

Key terms: Project Management approach, agile, waterfall, hybrid, PMO, project tailoring

Mary*: Hello, doctor! I hope you are keeping well. I know it has been a few weeks since we talked. I have started working as an intern in a hospital administration department. Knowing my interest in healthcare, my close friend who works in the hospital suggested me this position. I had to go through a couple of rounds of interviews and was happy to know I was selected. I am excited about my role.

Author: Oh yes! I am well and hope you are too. I was wondering where you had disappeared! Congratulations on your new role! How was your onboarding?

Mary: Absolutely. I can now apply the learning from our discussions on healthcare project management. As part of the onboarding, I was introduced to different departments in the hospital. I wanted to discuss the selection and benefits of project management (PM) approaches for healthcare projects.

Author: Of course, Mary! I am glad you are excited to apply all our discussed concepts. Let us see what you have observed and what questions you have.


  1. How will different project management approaches improve patient care?
  2. What roles do stakeholders play in supporting these projects and their approaches?
  3. How can I monitor if the project approach is on track?
  4. What is project tailoring? 

Prescribing one project management approach for all projects is as good as saying “one-size-fits-all.” It is equally impractical to say that each project needs a new management approach. Project managers need to understand the factors impacting the projects, the ecosystem of the projects such as (industry, geography, resource availability, geopolitical nuances, market landscape, etc.), and project complexity and only then dish out the right recipe to successfully deliver the project. When discussing different project management approaches such as waterfall, agile, or hybrid, one tends to conclude that these techniques are specifically for software development projects. That’s not true. Knowing and understanding these approaches’ underlying principles and philosophy is critical to their tailoring and application to projects in various industries, including healthcare.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles about project management in healthcare is by Dr. Deepa Bhide, a pediatrician with additional experience in information technology and project management. Being a physician herself, she has recently experienced healthcare from a patient’s perspective while recovering from a broken ankle.  In this series, Dr. Bhide discusses programs, projects, and project management in various aspects of healthcare from industry, provider, and human patient perspectives. Learn more about Dr. Bhide in her author profile at the end of this article.

Editor’s note 2: Sunanda Gundavajhala was invited by Dr. Bhide to co-author this month’s series article in order to deepen the discussion of different project management approaches based on project type and context.  Ms. Gundavajhala has 25+ years’ experience in project, process and operations management and is the author of multiple papers and books on related topics.  See her profile at the end of this article.

How to cite this paper: Gundavajhala, S. and Bhide, D. (2023). Project Management Approaches in Healthcare, Healthcare and Project Management, series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/pmwj131-Jul2023-Gundavajhala-Bhide-project-management-approaches-in-healthcare.pdf

About the Authors

Sunanda Gundavajhala

Hyderabad, India


Sunanda Gundavajhala brings 25+ of experience in Process Re-engineering, Product Development, and People Management across multiple verticals. She comes with experience in defining & improving business processes and systems for various functions and building new capabilities. As Head of Operations, Sunanda drives HR, Market Research, and Finance Strategy for DispatchTrack India operations.

Sunanda holds a Master’s in Business Management and Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. She is a PMP (Project Management Professional) and DASSM (Disciplined Agile Senior Scrum Master) certified. She has consulted with many marquee clients and trained professionals in earlier stints in project/program management areas. Sunanda also volunteers for non-profit organizations for the hearing impaired on project strategies and has been a long-standing volunteer with the local PMI chapter leading social good projects. As a joint secretary of the alumni association, Sunanda is spearheading multiple initiatives for her undergrad school (Chemical Engineering Department at Osmania University) and mentoring the students. She has co-authored multiple Project Management and Business Ethics books and published articles in multiple journals. Sunanda lives in Hyderabad, India.


Dr. Deepa Bhide

Hyderabad, India


Dr. Deepa Bhide, MBBS, DCH, PMP, has over 20 years of professional experience where she has blended medical practice and research with IT and Project Management. She juggles consulting, training, and operations and is proficient in clinical medicine, project management, and healthcare information technology. Starting her career as a medical practitioner, she has worked with varied organizations before her current stint as director and clinical expert for Inventurus Knowledge Solutions.

Her passion for IT and Project Management was born from her day-to-day patient interactions. Deepa’s growing interest and work in these areas helped her view Project Management as a backbone of progressive healthcare. Her paper on “Patient Care – A Project Management Perspective” has received global recognition and acclaim. Deepa is an active contributor to PMI with her articles on a cross-domain confluence of Healthcare and Project Management. With a physician background as a solid foundation to leverage IT/PM skills and knowledge, Deepa has blended her broad-based experience and learnings to present a unified, holistic, wholesome view of Project Management and Healthcare. Through various webinars, events, talks, and writings across platforms, Deepa has been an evangelist in championing global project management during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Gold medalist from Osmania University for standing First in the MBBS course and also for Human Physiology, she went ahead to pursue her DCH in Pediatrics and Child health. Deepa is an active member of their volunteer initiatives. Deepa has served a variety of roles in local and global PMI regions. The part of Council Lead for PMI’s Healthcare Community of Practice for two years (2013-15) involved identifying and mentoring volunteers and collaborating across geographies for knowledge assets. Deepa is currently a part of PMI’s Ethics Insight Team, a global team of 7 volunteers advocating PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.

Deepa lives in Hyderabad, India, and loves to travel, sing and experiment with global cuisine. She can be contacted at deepabhide@gmail.com.

To view other works by Dr. Bhide, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-deepa-bhide/