Benchmarking In Health & Nursing Care

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Health Care Bench Marking

Benchmarking In Health & Nursing  Care

Effectiveness Of Bench Marking, Health Care Organizational Benefits Of Bench Marking, Bench Marking In Health Care And Increase In Stress And Cost.

Benchmarking Concept In  health care

    Benchmarking is a structured process used to discover, compare, and incorporate the best practices of high-performing organizations for the purpose of improving the benchmarking organization's performance. It was first used in the late 1970s by the Xerox Corporation and soon became popular in other industries. 

    The introduction of benchmarking in industry was aligned with total quality management (TQM) and continuous quality improvement (CQI). When used correctly, benchmarking offers the opportunity for exponential improvement rather than the incremental changes most frequently with traditional quality improvement methods. 

    As health care became more industrialized, with enormous pressure to increase efficiency, quality, and customer satisfaction, health care organizations began to adopt benchmarking. 

    As in other industries, benchmarking is often used in conjunction with TQM, CQI, other quality assurance programs, or competitive analysis in health care organizations. It has been used to improve business processes, management processes, and clinical processes in health care organizations.

Effectiveness Of Bench Marking 

    Benchmarking is most effectively introduced in an organization with a preexisting culture of process orientation and analysis. It is a continuous, ongoing process that requires planning, analysis, and adoption of new processes. 

    Processes to be benchmarked are identified during the planning phase, and because benchmarking costs can be significant, it is important that the organization identify key processes for improving performance. 

    Performance data to be used as benchmarks must be identified and available for analysis and comparison with selected high performers. Selection of organizations to benchmark against is another major decision during the planning phase. 

    The organization may choose internal benchmarking to compare performance of similar operations or divisions within the organization, within one operation or division over time, or with findings from research literature.

Health Care Organizational Benefits Of Bench Marking 

    However, to reap the full benefit of benchmarking the organization must move to external benchmarking and comparisons with other organizations. 

    External benchmarking may be conducted with like organizations in a geographical region, with similar organizations in a collaborative project, with recognized high performers in health care, or with high-performance industries outside health care. 

    Identification and comparison with high performers are costly and time consuming and may be more efficiently handled by a consulting group or benchmarking clearinghouse that does benchmarking for health care organizations and has access to data from similar organizations recognized as high performers. 

    Analysis requires two discrete sets of data: (1) the benchmarks, or performance measures, to be used in comparing the benchmarking organization's performance against the selected high performers; and (2) a thorough description of the operational process being benchmarked in the organization using benchmarking and the comparison organizations. 

    This operational description is often referred to as process mapping and is essential to identifying practices in the comparison organizations that enable them to be high performers. Identification of these "best" practices is a necessary prerequisite for the analysis, identification, and adoption of practices that can improve the benchmarking organization's performance. 

    Implementation of operational processes identified through benchmarking, followed by reevaluation of the selected performance measures, is a cyclical process that is repeated until performance goals have been reached and maintained over time.

Bench Marking In Health Care And Increase In Stress And Cost 

    Although benchmarking has the potential to assist health care organizations to make quantum improvements in operational and delivery systems, it also has the potential to increase stress and cost and to be counterproductive if used inappropriately or improperly. Because benchmarking is in its infancy in health care, a number of pitfalls must be avoided. 

    A common problem is comparing the benchmarks (performance measures) and not looking at the process to find out how the high-performing organization achieves performance and how it differs from the benchmarking organization's performance. Truly effective benchmarking requires in-depth, personal examination of the reasons for the high performer's success. 

    It also requires that performance and productivity measures be consistent with the philosophy and objectives of the organization (Smeltzer, Leighty, & Williams-Brinkley, 1997). Problems also may arise from an inadequate study design, inadequate data analysis, and inadequate preparation of the organization for benchmarking. Benchmarking studies have only recently been published in health care literature. 

    Many of these studies are reported as case studies that provide information about the process being used, the organizational changes made, and the outcomes achieved through the benchmarking process. 

    Examples of business and management processes studied include workers' compensation process, admissions process, scheduling systems, and operating room use. Studies of benchmarking with clinical processes (Bankert, Daughtridge, Meehan, & Colburn, 1996; Czarnecki, 1996) and patient populations (Clare, Sargent, Moxley, & Forthman, 1995; Lauver, 1996) are reported in the literature and often contain cost information as well as patient outcomes. 

    Although consulting organizations have accumulated comparative data from the organizations they service, this information may surface in the literature slowly, if at all. To determine the usefulness of benchmarking for achieving improvements in health care organizations, more evaluative studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of benchmarking for improving the cost and quality of services provided by health care organizations.

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