Opinion: Medical Practice Benchmarking

Dr. Adam Tabriz

Let Us Walkthrough The What, Why, And How of Medical Practice Benchmarking.

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In the ever-competitive world we live in, the healthcare domain is not strange to the modern contenders. On top of facing competition, the quality and safety concerns also riddle our healthcare arena.

Satisfying the quality measures and compliance with preset standards of a given society and administration can be the seed of competition. One way of gauging your medical practice's competitiveness is implementing a continuous or periodic Benchmark process.

By benchmarking your medical practice against another medical practice or group of clinics, you would be comparing your operations, processes, and performance with them. Only then will you be able to step back and determine how your medical practice is performing by measuring and comparing success rates across various tasks, procedures, or protocols using "Metrics."

Metrics are preassigned standards designed to provide quantitative assessment by comparing and tracking performance and productivity, clinical or non-clinical in disposition.

Benchmarking helps you realize the performance gaps within your medical practice and directs you to change how your practice operates and functions based on the success of the other medical procedures with comparable missions as yours.

Understanding Your Medical Practice Challenges Is The First Step In Benchmarking

I expect every medical practice to hold and uphold its own unique set of vision and mission. That is the very facade of every medical practice. Only on that foundation will you be able to plan your benchmarking metrics. That is by assessing where your clinic is and what your goals are for your medical practice.

For instance, if you as a physician notice that you are losing patients to another clinic more than you anticipated, then building a set of relevant metrics will help you compare similar scenarios with the other players in the healthcare space.

Only by knowing your particular challenge will you have a chance of giving a shot at improving your outcome in that specific issue. Maybe, your goal will entail improving patient retention by reducing wait times, or perhaps it is something more personal that is easy for you to overlook but simple to correct.

Collecting Data Based On Your Plan Of Action In The Process Of Benchmarking

The information you need to gather to help you analyze and draw final corrective action plans typically comes from the companies you are benchmarking against (Direct Data). Or it comes indirectly from garnering from various 3rd party sources like the press, publications, and websites.

The MGMA (Medical Group Management Association) Stat Poll is an indirect data resource. That can further encompass the research of the market. It can be quantitative through informal conversation, interviews, and questionnaires.

Data Analysis, Implementation, Plan Of Action, And Monitoring Are The Stages Your Medical Practice Must Bear During The Benchmarking Process.

Upon completion of data collection, you must be able to analyze the collected information. A clear graphical outline of the trends and comparisons will help clearly understand any existing gaps in your medical practice process. That will also help pinpoint the root of those operation cracks referred to as "the Enablers."

Upon identifying the medical practice gaps and enablers now, it is the time to take action by making necessary changes on how to handle that particular process, procedure, or service, be it through elimination, reform, or implementing additional steps.

Implementing a corrective action plan within your medical practice also upholds your organization's culture. That can help avoid resistance from the practice members and ensure management and staff support, maintaining their commitment to the process.

Continuous or periodic monitoring of the newly implemented process is a vital step to reap the maximum benefits of the benchmarking process.

Benchmarking: A Robust Tool To maintain Quality, Compliance, And Efficiency In Your Medical Practice

Whether your medical practice offers high-quality service, complies with the prevailing bureaucratic standards, or operates efficiently, all can be measured objectively against various standards using unlimited metric formations.

Every physician, medical practice, community, and society harbors their values to determine quality, compliance standards, and means of efficiency.

Benchmarking through well-defined metrics based on the vision and mission of your medical practice culture provides you with the robust means to stay ahead of the healthcare competition.

Everything from improving the quality of medical care to complying with government mandates to medical practice workflow efficiency will ultimately converge your approach to all on one thing: establishing the correct "Metrics." Regardless of the intent, it is about making the right change to what, how, and why you do things. And what tools to use!

Various benchmarking software systems are available today, some with preset metrics. Your medical practice must also remember that there are no one-size-fits-all benchmark metrics, and you should be able to devise your metrics. But, some commonly used metrics include those that assess mortality, hospital readmission, the safety of care, the effectiveness of care, patient experience, timeliness of care, and efficient use of medical imaging.

Some recommended medical practices include clinical/quality, operational, financial, and equity benchmarks.

Once again, generally, what metrics you should track in your medical practice will depend on your operational requirements.

An Efficient Benchmark Design Demands A Robust Infrastructure That Is also Interconnected.

Ideally, access to data and constant real-time admission to information is ultimately the pivoting point for an optimal metric, benchmark, and corrective action plan. With today's disruptive information technologies, such a task should not be a complex undertaking. Nevertheless, it is a nuisance.

Being accessible and having admission to other data requires across-the-board interoperability and interconnectivity between various systems.

Given the interoperable climate epitomized by a "Health City" or "Open Healthcare Marketplace," one can seamlessly plan, collect, analyze, implement and monitor their benchmarking strategies without hassle. However, some medical practices may be reluctant to bear access to their system for security or proprietary reasons. We can address that by utilizing "Blockchain Interoperability" in conjunction with a cloud-based platform that is hybrid and interactive.

The combination of interoperability and decentralized blockchain ledgers will provide a well-synchronized network that uses Cyber-Physical-Human systems (CPHS) where humans, sensors, and computers can interact in cyberspace and time.

The CPHS offers the necessary tools and helps healthcare stakeholders collaborate to benchmark their respective medical practices independently yet serve one shared mission: personalized, high-quality care to all patients.

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Adam Tabriz is a Physician, Writer, Entrepreneur, and public health policy, expert. He is an advocate for Personal liberty. The combination of his experience and expertise underlines his passion for advocating true “Personalized Healthcare” and “Healthcare without Borders.” His favorite slogan is: “Peace of mind would come to all people through the universal respect for the basic human rights of everyone”

San Francisco, CA
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