What is Benchmarking?
Benchmarking is the process of comparing performance against a relevant peer group to identify variances and foster performance improvement.
Why Does Benchmarking Matter?
Money can often motivate employees. However, research has proven that benchmarking is more effective than financial incentives. In Dale Carnegie’s classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he illustrates a perfect example of the results benchmarking can achieve:
“Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked: ‘How many heats did your shift make today?’
Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor and walked away. When the night shift came in, they saw the ‘six’ and asked what it meant. ‘The big boss was in here today’ the day people said. He asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor.
The next day, Schwab returned to see the results.
The night shift had rubbed out ‘six’ and replaced it with a big seven.
When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big ‘seven’ chalked on the floor. So, the night shift thought they were better than the day shift, did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering 10. Things were stepping up.
Shortly this mill, which had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant.”
The aim of benchmarking is to heighten staff awareness of performance expectations. Once you set the minimum bar, establish realistic benchmarks based on historical and industry peer results. From here, analyze and dissect the processes that drive the difference in performance. Your medical practice can then improve performance by adopting these best practices into your operations.
How Benchmarking Works
- Identify a service or process to benchmark
- Detail three to four components of the service or process that employees can influence
- Collect and track internal historical data on these components
- Determine a relevant peer group and obtain data from associations such as:
- The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA)
- The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
- Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA)
- The National Association of Healthcare Consultants
- National and local specialty societies and associations
- Analyze the data and identify areas for improvement
- Based on your analysis, determine the necessary initiatives to bridge the gap.
Best Practices for Benchmarking
After grasping the what, why, and how of benchmarking, adopt the following best practices to position your efforts for success:
- Develop an accountability chart that details the cadence and individual responsible for reporting each benchmark data point
- Determine an appropriate frequency to review each benchmark
- Schedule mandatory staff meetings for the next twelve months based on the predetermined frequency
- During each session, request feedback and input from all responsible employees. Remain open and vet all suggestions from employees
- Outline a roadmap to achieving each benchmark goal
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