24 WWW.HEALTHSYSTEMMGMT.COM ANALYTICS HEALTH SYSTEM MANAGEMENT | JANUARY | 2017 Setting the Goal Achieve quality improvement through benchmarking Benchmarking studies can be quite an undertaking for healthcare organizations, but well worth the effort when done correctly. There are many opportunities to successfully conduct benchmarking studies to reach a quality improvement goal. HOW CAN BENCHMARKING BE USED? The first step is to determine the purpose of the benchmarking, and how it will help achieve specific metrics. The overarching goal is to encourage continuous quality improvement through comparison of performance with peers (similar providers/ organizations with a similar case mix). In traditional benchmarking, healthcare providers will: • Compare themselves to their own performance over time (internal benchmarking) or their organization to their peer organizations (external benchmarking) • Discover what is possible internally or externally in the industry • Learn and share best practices they have discovered • Utilize the results to design quality improvement studies Internal benchmarking can lead to exchanging best practices between colleagues within an organization or examining performance over time to make sure performance is not slipping. External benchmarking allows an organization to go beyond its walls to see what is possible in terms of delivering optimal patient care. Often underused, external benchmarking is an evaluation tool that gathers BY NAOMI KUZNETS, PH.D. Kuznets is vice president and senior director, AAAHC Institute for Quality Improvement performance data to determine where a healthcare organization stands relative to peer organizations. In doing so, one can pinpoint deficiencies and design improvement strategies to offer higher-quality care and be more competitive in the marketplace. Superior benchmarking provides organizations with the tools to conduct a quality improvement (QI) study, combat persistent performance issues, and guide the development of new policies and practices.
Health System Management • January 2017
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