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Healthcare Benchmarking: Who Should You Compare Against Your Organization?
Are you benchmarking your measures in a way that will help your healthcare organization?
In the healthcare space, there are many different types of organizations: private hospitals, for-profit hospitals, community hospitals, research organizations, policy organizations, and many others. And, naturally, most want to compare themselves to a healthcare organization that is similar to their own—but that’s not as simple as it sounds.
Healthcare organizations have to keep a number of things in mind when selecting organizations to benchmark against:
1. Type and focus. Of course, if your hospital primarily serves children, you’ll want to benchmark against other children's hospitals across the nation. And because many of these organizations don’t compete with each other, those in leadership tend to be more willing to share key measures. But keep in mind that two children’s hospitals may have very different focuses—for example, one may be focused on critical care and another on research. In this case, their differences are more noteworthy than their similarities as far as benchmarks are concerned.
2. Geographic regions. Massachusetts has state-mandated healthcare that served as the model for the Affordable Care Act. As a result, if a healthcare organization in Massachusetts examined what percentage of its patients were insured, that number would likely look very different than that of a hospital in Georgia.
3. Regulatory climate. For example, if you’re examining reimbursable rates, you may want to focus on other organizations in the same regulatory environment.
4. Weather and other miscellaneous conditions. The response times of a hospital in Montana (which faces cold temperatures, ice, and snow in the winter) are likely different than those of a hospital in Arizona. Additionally, the type of care provided may differ based on climate and conditions.
5. Demographic climate. In Florida, for example, you may have more people dying of heart disease because you have an older population compared to Colorado. This demographic difference may affect healthcare metrics with emergency response, the number of people who survive ambulatory calls, and more.
The important thing to remember is that you’re not going to get the same benchmarks from the same types of organizations. Every organization has a different strategy, and the healthcare metrics that are tied to that strategy are unique as well. For that reason, it’s critical to take your own measures into account when benchmarking. Below, we’ll walk through the process of translating your measures into benchmarks—and how to keep the aforementioned elements in mind as you do so.
Examples Of Benchmarking In Healthcare
Those in healthcare organization leadership must figure out which healthcare metrics are important to them and determine benchmarks for those measures. If you’re simply looking for benchmarks for the sake of comparison, you may be benchmarking against something that isn’t important or related to your strategy.
The following are examples of measures and how they might impact your healthcare benchmarking.
Patient Wait Time
If your clinic has a lot of competition in your local geography, you can benchmark against the competition to see who has to wait longer at the emergency room. You may also be looking at wait times for scheduled appointments; local comparisons are great benchmarks for these items.
Percentage Of Patients With Insurance
In healthcare benchmarking the percentage of patients who are insured, you’d want to look for best practices in the same regulatory climate—possibly in the same state or region. You also should consider why you are benchmarking this information. This measure might inform your revenue per patient or your reimbursement rates.
Number Of Media Mentions
Consider this: If you’re part of a research hospital that wants to raise a lot of funding, your communication best practices will be much different than if you wanted to raise awareness for treatment options at your healthcare center. In other words, communication strategies between a research hospital and a for-profit, care-centered hospital are likely very different, so you’d want to benchmark against organizations that leverage communication in the same way you do. It’s worth noting that this could be done nationwide with similar healthcare groups.
Number Of Partnerships With Advocacy Groups
This metric counts the number of relationships established with other organizations because a high number of partnerships can increase the impact of your campaigns and policy events. If you have a high or low number of partnerships, you would want to benchmark against other organizations that have a similar strategy.
Childhood Immunizations Or Childhood Obesity
If your organization focuses on healthcare education, you’d want to compare against healthcare organizations that do the same—like a state department of health. But if you focus on care (in a clinical setting, for example) you’d want to benchmark against other hospitals in a similar demographic. Therefore, when it comes to childhood immunization or childhood obesity, you would want to consider the percentage of your community with a certain level of education. Areas with similar levels of education would serve as your benchmarks.
This metric measures the number of patients who, after a visit to the facility, receive follow-up that involves a physician, a nurse, or another staff member asking about the visit and the patient’s improvements. If your organization is in a low-income or underserved community, previous patients may have a more difficult time coming back in for a follow-up. If this is the case in your community, you’d want to benchmark against an area with similar demographics. In theory, following up with your patients could greatly reduce readmittance—so be sure to consider this link.
Download Now: 108 Healthcare KPIs & Measures
Having solid healthcare measures—or key performance indicators (KPIs)—help you determine if you’re meeting internal standards and help you benchmark against external standards.
If you’re wondering where to begin in setting your healthcare benchmarks, start with your measures. This library of 108—organized into eight categories with clear descriptions of each measure—will get you started! (Remember, you won’t need all of these measures, as you should only choose measures that apply to your strategy.) Download the KPI library today for free.