Quality Management and Benchmarking in Healthcare
Healthcare Consulting Services is a rapid growing sector, today. All HealthCare Professionals (HCPs) are under a pious duty of ‘patient care’ ensuring the standard delivery of high quality service. Healthcare quality may be defined as the extent to which health services for both individual and communities increase the probability of desired health outcomes and are consistent with contextual prevailing professional knowledge. Since it is a complex, multidimensional concept that needs continuous clarification, analysis and improvement, benchmarking was translated to the health system. Also funding for healthcare and related research has become increasingly competitive. Therefore, significant focus is being given to Quality Management in Healthcare along with Continuous Improvement and Benchmarking Strategies.
Healthcare Benchmarking is a collective, collaborative and continuous discipline of quantifying and comparing results of key healthcare work processes with those who excel in it. The main rationale behind this is that HCPs with excellent performance apply certain special techniques resulting in best clinical outcomes and may also deploy special structural/cultural organizational features that contribute to this. By learning from these methods and applying them holistically in quality improvement and patient safety aspects, real life implementations may be done by other HCPs for improving patient care.
Evolution of Healthcare Benchmarking
- Initially began with mere comparison of performance outcomes for identifying and rectifying disparities
- Subsequently, the focus expanded on healthcare process analysis and identification of critical success factors for delivering higher levels of performance.
- Finally, the current focus enunciates and emphasizes the need for benchmarking to meet all aspects of patient expectations and even surpass it so as to achieve ‘patient-delight’.
Some Challenges faced in Healthcare Benchmarking
- Sharing patient data in Hospital Information Systems (HIS) between partner hospitals of the benchmarking process: The request to share confidential data deters participation of HCPs and jeopardizes the process as it fails to safeguard medical ethics though it is sought for sharing best practices
- Lack of clarity around the calculation indicators for measuring the clinical outcomes
- Constant maintenance of interest and commitment of the participants in the benchmarking process
- One of the key process indicators of benchmarking is Patient Satisfaction ,a subjective term, linked to adherence to treatment protocol, safety culture ,best clinical practices and outcomes
- Ensuring persistent commitment of the Hospitals Management Team for allocation of sufficient resources that are paramount to benchmarking completion exercise
Types of Healthcare Benchmarking
- Internal Benchmarking-This process takes place across various units or departments within the same hospital that has multiple branches in various locations. Aim is to examine a specific set of measures across those locations for addressing issues leading to lower patient satisfaction
- Competitive Benchmarking- This is used for comparing individual metrics directly on par with those of peers or competitors in same/different geographic area or serving different markets to ascertain your market position
- Functional Benchmarking – This is done usually for comparing an organization’s operational data with another in a different domain that may incorporate a similar metric or process through which the former could learn and benefit from .Examples include average collection time and system availability
- Generic Benchmarking – An abstract form that focuses on generic processes for introducing new trends and driving breakthroughs in the healthcare organisation like comparing Patient Admission process rates to check-in processes in hospitality industry.
- Ensures measurable Patient Outcomes
- Delivers quality healthcare with minimal effort
- Encourages focus on new areas of practice development
- Facilitates open comparison and sharing of best practices about patient experience
- Improves performance of HIS
Healthcare Quality Management and Benchmarking aids in ensuring patient safety and adopting best practices in process improvements to enable patient centric outcomes and development of healthier communities globally.