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Hospital benchmarking is the process of comparing certain traits of one medical facility with others in the industry. It is a means of understanding the competition and using the information to strategize ways to rise above and diverge from other hospitals. The practice of benchmarking can also reveal which actions are counterproductive and should be avoided. Benchmarking is common in the medical industry, with a well-established support structure to guide hospitals through the process.
The practice of hospital benchmarking is usually approached as a continual process. The first time a facility is measured against industry norms it is typically a more comprehensive process. The size and complexity of future benchmarking tasks tends to expand and contract, depending upon internal and external needs problems and trends.
The process of hospital benchmarking can address both big picture and specific issues. Overall, a hospital will usually regularly track a standard set of statistics that relate to daily operations. Other issues, such as common industry problems or the introduction of new conditions due to things such as government intervention or an economic downturn, may be studied as they arise.
One of the most common subjects of hospital benchmarking is facility productivity. This process enables the hospital to create a more effective strategy for operations on a departmental and organizational level. It is a way to find methods of increasing efficiency with administration, staff relations, and patient services.
Hospital benchmarking also frequently involves working to improve the quality of clinical care. This can include patient response to care, the manner in which the staff interacts with patients, and any other element that directly affects people who come to the facility for services. It is usually a study of everything from departmental performance to the overall experience with the hospital.
Depending on the needs of the facility, benchmarking can cover several different geographic areas. Typically a hospital will focus its efforts on learning about facilities in the same country. Some will even spend the most time learning about local hospitals. Other facilities may desire an international focus which includes information from hospitals of similar size or function from around the world.
The process of hospital benchmarking can be scheduled in a variety of ways. It can be an annual event, a more frequently-pursued process or it can be used as new issues develop. Many hospitals will use a combination of these methods.