There is an old saying, “If you don’t want to do something, any excuse will be good enough,” which applies to benchmarking. The most common excuse we hear is, “Benchmarking won’t work for me because my hospital is different.” This may be true that your hospital is different, but the question you should be asking is, “Why is it different?”
We have been benchmarking hospitals’ productivity, products, and processes for 34 years and have discovered that although EVERY hospital is DIFFERENT in what they do, there is no hospital activity that can’t be benchmarked effectively and accurately if you know why your hospital is different.
This has been the secret to our benchmarking success. We expend a lot of time understanding what makes our clients’ operations, products, and services different from their peers. You, too, can do the same!
For instance, measuring biomed services’ cost is very complicated since some hospitals outsource this service completely, some partially, and some not at all. That’s why we ask in depth questions about how our clients organize their biomed departments to understand what makes them different. Once we understand the difference, we can then match them up to a peer with the same operating characteristics.
The whole concept of benchmarking is about the search for best practices along with gap analysis so you can measure where you are now compared to your best-in-class competitors. It’s about improving what you have been doing.
It is also about proving to your department heads and managers that there is a better way of doing things to encourage them to change their costly, wasteful, or outdated behaviors. A good example of this is blood management.
For years, hospitals have continued to provide their clients with blood products based on myths, misinformation, and faulty science. Now, through benchmarking, we are raising our clients’ awareness that there are more scientific ways to lower their blood product costs and improve their patient outcomes at the same time. Without our benchmarks, none of our clients would believe that their blood cost and quality is out of kilter.
Benchmarking is an art and a science that anyone can learn if you are committed to doing so. We learned by trial and error, but now we are experts in this discipline. The best feature about benchmarking is that you don’t need any special tools to do so. We started out with spreadsheets, but now we have moved to databases since it makes it much easier to accumulate millions of bits of data and retrieve them effortlessly on demand.
But first, you must believe that even though your hospital is DIFFERENT, you can find comparable benchmarks to your healthcare organization’s products, services, and processes. Once you have made this leap forward mentally, everything else you need to know about benchmarking will fall into place.
Conversely, if you continue to believe the myth that your hospital is DIFFERENT and therefore can’t be benchmarked, it will hold you back from big savings and quality improvements, which are mission critical for your hospital to achieve in the new healthcare economy we live and work in today. Your reward: It will open up a whole new world of savings for you!
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