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Physician Benchmarking Drives Performance and Improvements

Lia Cirelli and Lila Kelso


February 24th, 2022

Physician Benchmarking Drives Performance and Improvements

Let us first start off by defining what a benchmark is – a standard or point of reference against which to compare conditions. In healthcare, benchmarking is an extremely powerful tool that can shape the way an organization operates. Healthcare benchmarking begins with data that can show care quality, patient safety, health outcomes, and much more. This data is then analyzed to help identify goals and develop action plans to improve success. Within healthcare benchmarking, there are a lot of different metrics and performance pieces that can be compared, but in this blog, we are going to focus on physician benchmarking and how it drives performance and improvements.

Within a hospital or healthcare organization, there are many physicians in a variety of departments. When considering physician benchmarking, one can look specifically at physicians performing surgical procedures whether it be in orthopedic surgery, general surgery, neurosurgery, or something else to gain more insight into physician performance. Some different metrics that can be measured include operating room (OR) time, the surgical supplies used, the patient length of stay after surgery, and patient readmission rate, to name a few. Having knowledge of the performance of different physicians can help the organization make strategic decisions.

In a recent study published by JAMA, investigators looked at the impact of providing individualized peer-benchmarking data on performance of endovenous thermal ablation (EVTA) and if the provision of the data was associated with changes in the physicians’ practice patterns and costs. Sharing physician performance scores so other department physicians can see them can help drive individual physicians to internal competitiveness with their peers. Physicians can essentially see their rank and with further analytics and understanding, know why they rank at that level. The main outcome and result of the study demonstrated that physicians did change their behavior and administration of EVTA. This was a quality improvement initiative that was associated with reduced variability in EVTA use and a substantial savings for Medicare.

When a physician sees how another physician is performing, they may be able to alter their behavior and practice to improve their delivery of patient care. If one physician is known for having a significantly shorter OR time compared to the other physicians in a department but has equally good patient outcomes, this can be a learning point for the other physicians. If the other physicians can learn from the higher performing physician, OR times can be reduced which can help save costs. Similarly, by having the ability to benchmark different physicians within an organization, leadership can uncover trends in performance that can drive change to improve patient care. “Clinician-based benchmarking allows leadership to identify high-performing employees and enable them to educate others across the organization on best practices,” says Indeed Editorial.

Taking a step back at how an organization generates a benchmark, it comes down to the data. “Healthcare organizations have a vast amount of data available. But data need to be converted into better decisions regarding organizational focus, resource allocation, and setting and driving toward appropriate targets to optimize performance,” writes Health Catalyst . Hospitals get much of their data from their electronic medical records (EMRs), but the primary design goals of the EMR are to capture and retrieve health information and facilitate billing operations (not analytics). “EMR companies have been enhancing the data science, analytics and reporting capabilities in their products in recent years, though many of their solutions don't allow for much local control of functionality,” as noted in Becker’s Health.

This is where having an additional analytic software solution beyond the EMR comes into play, such as Avant-garde Health. Avant-garde Health works with hospitals and healthcare organizations by taking their data and turning it into action. We help with physician benchmarking to identify cost savings that also drive performance and organization improvements. Our robust analytics can show an individual physician’s performance based on a wide variety of different metrics. This makes for more comprehensive and better-integrated data that helps make critical leadership decisions and drive daily performance. At Avant-garde Health, we want to help your hospital or healthcare organization achieve its goals and translate data into knowledge.

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