Three Key Benchmarks for Healthcare Organizations

by Debbie Rosen

We all have goals we’d like to achieve. Thinking back on goals I set for myself, I would always start by picking a target of some kind, something measurable. And because I’m strategic by nature, I created a set of tasks to work toward achieving that objective. 

For example, when I decided to get back into fitness competitions, I picked a few people in the industry that I admired and then set their achievement level as my target. But there was something inherently wrong with my approach. You see, I was years – decades even – away from achieving the same level of performance. Honestly, at my age, the goal was unrealistic. Yet, having a specific target motivated me to keep inching toward the finish line.  

Relevance is the key to effective benchmarking

What I just described is what we all do every day in our professional world. It’s called benchmarking. We select seemingly relevant comparisons that help us to determine if our current performance is on track — or falling short. Benchmarks help us to learn what “the best” do to get better. 

But the key word here is “relevant.” Nothing is more discouraging than comparing yourself to something that seems unachievable from your starting point. It’s like choosing Tiger Woods as your benchmark when you take your first backswing using a seven-iron. Or selecting Usain Bolt after deciding to do your first 5k race. 

The same can be said about using a Top Workplaces organization as your benchmark when you’ve only just started your first culture and employee engagement initiative. The result is that we may end up making excuses about how these benchmarks are “nothing like us” – and those excuses prevent us from what we really want to achieve: progress.    

Three benchmarks every healthcare company should consider

Benchmarking is a way of determining relative performance that is being achieved. This information can be used to identify differences in your own approach compared to those who have “better” performance when it comes to bringing about to effect change. Over time, this leads to improvement in outcomes. There are three types of relevant benchmarks for healthcare that every organization in the industry should consider. Each has its own benefits.

1. Your current culture

Your current culture is the best place to start. Each culture is unique, with its own values and history. Looking back on past performance provides valuable perspective that ensures you don’t forget where you’ve been – and allows you to celebrate how far you’ve come.

You should also pay attention to short-term progress, especially early in your culture journey. All too often, I see organizations that wait a year or longer to evaluate progress when there were moments of significant improvement all along the way. 

Can you imagine starting a weight-loss program but only checking the scale once a year? You’d miss weeks and months of progress. Not to mention, you’d likely lose the motivation to keep going. So, be sure to measure and benchmark your past performance often enough to take note of small victories. 

2. Your direct competition

In the war for talent, customer loyalty, and revenue, it’s important to compare your performance to your immediate competitors. Depending on the scope of your business and your primary/secondary market, you will define your direct competition differently. For instance, a nursing home with local reach probably pays less attention to a national benchmark. Similarly, if your organization is a national pharmaceutical company, it would be a mistake to only compare your culture against the local market. 

3. The best of the best

Choosing a benchmark that exhibits world-class performance keeps you focused on what’s possible. Choosing out-of-industry benchmarks is a good way to do this. For example, it’s practical for healthcare organizations to benchmark against world-class performance in hospitality or aviation industries. That’s because healthcare organizations share some common objectives with these industries – to provide the shortest wait times, the lowest error rates, and the best customer service. While out-of-industry organizations may be globally recognized for excellence, they also act as appropriate benchmarks to keep healthcare organizations on track and motivated with realistic goals.

In conclusion

Growth is possible when the appropriate benchmarks are in place. So, as you think about your next organizational objectives, be sure to consider these relevant and inspiring benchmarks to drive your performance. This will help you to avoid the “we’ll never get there” and “they are nothing like us” vibes.

While you may never achieve the same level of success as Tiger Woods or Usain Bolt, you can learn from their best practices and form attainable goals that not only work for your own organization

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