Internal and external financial benchmarking
Financial benchmarking is defined as “the process of establishing a standard of excellence and comparing a business function or activity, a product, or an enterprise as a whole with that standard…” (Benson, 1994). It involves identifying an excellent performer and using them as a role model of sorts. Healthcare institutions are increasingly adopting financial benchmarking to reduce expenses, improve product quality, and quality service improvement. Benchmarking is an aspect of total quality management. It offers current institutions and the upcoming ones a continuous process that allows them to assess their performances and compare them to the leading organizations. It is necessary to view benchmarking as an aspect of total quality management and not a replacement.
Internal benchmarking allows an organization to compare functions within its system. Through internal benchmarking, opinion sharing between departments or organizations in a chain and two-way communication is facilitated. If a certain department in an organization or an organization in a chain has better performance indicators in various aspects, the other departments and organizations can learn from it. The internal benchmarking process gives the organization a starting point that involves internal examination. The examination’s results provide a reliable baseline for conducting beneficial comparisons. Internal benchmarking allows an organization to interact with entities or individuals who share a similar culture, language, or system (Kay, 2007). These similarities allow easy data access and give a reliable baseline for comparisons in the future. The results obtained through internal benchmarking can be presented rapidly.
On the other hand, external benchmarking involves comparing an entity’s aspects with an external organization. This provides an opportunity to identify new services, ideas, methods, and products. Consistent measurement of an organization’s performance and comparing these are critical for effectiveness. Organizations can learn the techniques and processes that market leaders utilize to achieve certain results. Both external and internal benchmarking provide opportunities to learn and grow (Kay, 2007). However, external benchmarking provides diversified opportunities as opposed to internal benchmarking processes. Most importantly, both processes begin with an internal examination of an entity.
Purpose of benchmarking
Healthcare institutions, existent and upcoming, all seek to offer high-quality care. Quality of care is a complex aspect because it involves different dimensions. These dimensions include effectiveness, efficiency, accessibility, safety, equity, and patient-centered. Different organizational aspects are necessary for achieving high-quality care (Ankuda, 2012). Thus, every organization that seeks to establish a reputation as a quality care provider must learn the ropes, so to speak, by looking at top performers. External benchmarking plays a critical role in enabling an organization to compare its performance with other top-performing institutions. The process of understanding how a certain top performer achieves all the dimensions of care quality prepares an entity for specific responsibilities and processes. As a result, benchmarking allows clients to access care that achieves the set quality standards across the board. This conclusion assumes that more facilities utilize benchmarking.
Regarding financial benchmarking, a specific aspect of quality is addressed through benchmarking. Efficiency requires that an entity offers care that meets the community’s needs without wasting resources. Essentially, resource utilization is important in achieving efficiency. Resources are always scarce. Therefore, they demand that healthcare managers identify the priority areas through a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA), which compares different programs’ outcomes and costs. CEA allows an entity to compare existent programs to other new programs that they wish to adopt. Based on the internal assessment, an organization can determine whether its CEA results make economic sense. This result is achieved after comparison with other entities within the same community that are performing better in terms of efficiency. Such comparisons allow for more informed and efficient planning of the organization’s financial resources by ensuring that budgetary allocations maximize the benefits (Jamison, Breman, & Measham, 2006). The beneficiaries are the users of services and products and tend to access care that is more affordable, which in turn promotes its accessibility and availability to the community.
Internal benchmarking is an ideal strategic measure that can be used to ensure that all departments within an organization or entities within a chain achieve proper resource utilization. Using the internal examination, it is possible to identify areas that consume more resources and compare them to other departments or players within a chain. Referring to the best-performing department in terms of resource utilization or organization within a chain allows the other units to identify strategies that could be applied for the achievement of the desired result. This practice ensures that the entire organization’s units are sensitive about resource allocation and free more resources that can be used to achieve alternative priorities.
Health Information Technology (HIT) system
The adoption of Patient Portals is highly recommended for the upcoming entity. Patient portals allow patients to gain access to their personal data related to health, including appointments, medication, diagnosis, prescriptions, and even laboratory results. Patients can access this information using an internet connection. Some of the portals allow patients to communicate with their physicians, obtain requests to refill prescriptions, and make appointments (Brook, 2020).
Patient portals promote the patient-centered aspect of quality care. The physicians’ interactions with patients on the portals allow the users to obtain care suited to their needs due to the understanding forged through numerous interactions. Secondly, patient portals promote care accessibility because patients can obtain prescriptions for refills and even consultations with physicians. This bridges the hurdles that occur due to geographical distance and limited time to visit the facilities physically. Finally, patient portals allow a patient to seek care from other facilities easily when they present their personal health information to other physicians.
General liability and safety
Patient falls present a real hazard in healthcare facilities. They affect employees and patients alike. The costs of patient falls are enormous and manifest in serious injuries, increased days of admission, increased cost of care, and litigations in extreme cases. It is necessary to address structural aspects that could increase the likelihood of occurrences, such as floors and guard rails, to mitigate the effects of the hazard. In addition, it is important to train employees on the need to identify patients who are vulnerable and take specific measures to avoid patient and employee falls. For instance, if an elderly patient falls, they could suffer from an injury that requires rehabilitation and probably die due to health deterioration (Toren & Lipschuetz, 2017).
The practice’s functions that need to remain operational include ambulatory services, emergency response, outpatient care, diagnostics and treatment, and patient rehabilitation. The facility should act proactively to ensure that communication is established and maintained. Adopting Patient Portals allows patients to contact physicians online. An employee portal that is connected to portable gadgets of communication allows employees to communicate while on the field. Securing patient and financial records requires adherence to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (Brook, 2020). Finally, proper CEA is necessary to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately.
Ankuda, C. K. (2012). Transforming the Patient-Physician Relationship: The Future of Shared Decision Making. AMA Journal of Ethics, 14(7), 529-531. doi:10.1001/virtualmentor.2012.14.7.fred1-1207
Benson, H. R. (1994). An introduction to benchmarking in healthcare. Radiol Manage, 16(4), 35-39.
Brook, C. (2020). What is a Health Information System? Digital Guardian.
Jamison, D. T., Breman, J. G., & Measham, A. R. (2006). Cost-Effectiveness Analysis. In Priorities in Health. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / The World Bank.
Kay, J. F. (2007). Health Care Benchmarking. Medical Bulletin, 12(2), 22-27.
Toren, O., & Lipschuetz, M. (2017). Falls prevention in hospitals-the need for a new approach an integrative article. Nurse Care Open Acces J., 2(3), 93-96. doi:10.15406/ncoaj.2017.02.00040
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Imagine that a group of physicians who are planning to open a single-specialty group practice has hired you as a consultant. Your job is to advise the physicians in creating a business plan that includes management strategies that will help ensure their success. The physicians have stipulated that the plan must promote medical excellence and limit their exposure to risks associated with the practice of medicine and the operational functions of the practice. In addition, they are aware that a public health emergency or natural disaster could have a significant impact on their practice, and therefore, they want to include a strategy for emergency preparedness as part of their plan so that they will be able to manage their patients and help serve the community as needed.
Write a 4–6 page paper in which you:
1. Compare and contrast the two main levels (i.e., internal comparison and external comparison) of financial benchmarking. Next, analyze the strategic purpose of each level of benchmarking and specify the overall importance of benchmarking as a financial planning tool for a medical practice.
2. Recommend a Health Information Technology (HIT) system that includes an Electronic Health Record (EHR) for the new practice to implement. Support your recommendation by determining three main benefits of having this type of system for the practice.
3. According to the text (p. 368), some of the main areas of risk exposure for a group practice include property (general liability and safety), technology, and financial practices. Determine one specific hazard associated with one of these risk categories and propose a strategy to mitigate the impact this risk could have on the practice. Support your analysis with a real-life example.
4. Determine the main functions of the practice that will need to remain operational before, during, and after a natural disaster or public health emergency. Next, suggest a strategy that the practice should take to maintain communication with employees and patients, secure patient and financial records, and ensure that resources will be available to care for patients during a disaster or emergency. Provide a rationale for your response.
5. Use at least three quality academic resources. Note: Wikipedia does not qualify as an academic resource.
The specific course learning outcome associated with this assignment is:
Create a business plan for a physician group practice that promotes medical excellence, limits exposure to risk, and provides a strategy for remaining operational during a disaster or public health emergency.
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