Over the course of my career, I have had an opportunity to speak with a lot of leadership teams at hospitals and health systems about their efforts to continuously drive and inspire performance improvements. I’ve probed, had great conversations and gathered their thoughts about what it takes to ensure meaningful success. I sense a real desire to go beyond ‘making an effort’ or talking conceptually about the long term value of ‘big data.’ The leaders I’ve been speaking with are laser-focused on results – results in the form of improved performance and improved delivery of care. Whether you’re in the process of expanding the role of benchmarking or wondering if you’re hospital or system is in need of a benchmarking re-boot, here are four quick points to keep top-of-mind:
- Hospital benchmarking shouldn't be an academic exercise: I wish I could say that I see this only here and there, but too many benchmarking initiatives ultimately become an academic exercise (despite good intentions). And by that I mean key metrics are identified, aggregated and then….nothing. Nobody really invests much time in understanding what the data are saying, what actions should be taken, how things could be done differently. So little changes and it’s never truly applied to drive improvement. The last thing you want to be doing is benchmarking for the sake of benchmarking.
- Become a Proactive Consumer of Your Data: Ask questions of the data. Ask decision makers questions based on the data. Set new objectives and hold people accountable to those goals. Hospitals and health systems achieving the most success with benchmarking have made analytics a visible participant in the operation of every department.
- Empower, Empower, Empower: The greatest asset in any benchmarking initiative is your front-line decision makers. This is the group that’s going to transform data into action and really drive change at the departmental level. At many healthcare facilities we work with – whether community hospitals or large systems -- we see the pay off when giving staff more leadership responsibility (something they crave), supporting them with key information, and challenging them to be ‘department entrepreneurs.’
- Beware of the Black Box: The solution powering your benchmarking initiative is – in some ways – as important as the internal culture you create around data. It must be accessible, have robust data, and offer relevant data that easily exposes the gaps in your performance, compared to your peers. But beyond that, the methodology behind the software and implementation process has to be transparent. At the end of the day, you have to – be able to gain trust in the data. That means you have to understand the methodology behind the metrics and be able to explain it to others. Is validation conducted collaboratively? Is the data mapped rigorously to ensure accuracy?
As a company committed to our clients’ success, we developed a number of resources designed to educate hospital leadership teams on how to get optimal value from their hospital benchmarking solutions and performance improvement initiatives. Reach out to me directly with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.