You may think you know what benchmarks are, but an update on that knowledge is needed. The simplest definition is “a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed.”

I like looking at it a little differently: “A way of discovering the best performance achieved, whether in a particular company, by a competitor, or by an entirely different industry.” This information can be used to identify gaps in an organization’s processes to achieve a competitive advantage.

I am in hospitals and surgery centers virtually every week, and I cannot remember the last time I saw posted benchmarks for staff. They should be a requirement. Imagine watching a game on TV with no commentary on who is winning or any indications of the score and other statistics. The game would be significantly less exciting if you did not know that information. How can one come to work each day with no indications regarding performance vs. expectations?

There are several benchmarks one can use to monitor or “score” a facility. There are internal and external benchmarks CMS wants to see in a facility, all of which are part of QA, infection control, and other standards. Medicare requires facilities to demonstrate how those benchmarks are met. Is everyone in your organization aware of these benchmarks?

In ambulatory surgery centers, the most common benchmarks likely concern turnover time, cases vs. budget, revenue vs. budget, infections, and hospital admissions. There are more than 100 benchmarks one can use to help compare a center to the rest of the industry. Other benchmarks I like to see include net revenue per case for every specialty performed at the facility, hourly pay rates per position per job title, last year to date vs. current period, supply cost vs. net revenue, and personnel cost vs. net revenue. How do you share your “scores” with staff? Try assigning and rotating employees who can update everyone on benchmarks you deem important. It is likely all staff to know how they are performing compared to other facilities. Consider sharing information based on what particular staff members would want to know. Above all, remember to set a goal, or your staff will never reach any goal.

After facilities receive benchmarking data, what comes next? Be sure to read next month’s column for tools to help track your benchmarks.

(Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: searnhart@earnhart.com. Web: www.earnhart.com. Instagram: Earnhart.Associates.)