Outpatient medicine: No practice management quality without benchmarking

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

Most doctors judge their practice management and its results on the basis of personal assessments, but the isolated assessment says nothing about whether these are also realistic.

Example ophthalmologist practice

For example, before conducting a Practice Management Benchmarking©, the two owners of an ophthalmology practice in a highly competitive environment were extremely positive about how their practice visitors rated the quality of their services: there had been no complaints so far and feedback from some patients was positive.

The benchmarking comparison shows the reality

However, the practice assessment of the benchmarking comparison showed a PCQS (Patient Care Quality Score, the ratio of achieved satisfaction in relation to patient requirements) of 49.4% (optimum: 100%), corresponding to a classification as borderline quality of care.

Completely surprising for them was the information that the comparative value for their specialist group was 61.3%. Considering their market situation, this resulted in an immediate need for action that they would not have recognised if they had looked at it in isolation.

You can’t do without benchmarking

For a secure practice management, it is therefore essential to carry out a twofold benchmarking:

  • once the comparison to the professional group and supplementary
  • to the best practice standard.

In the case of patient and staff satisfaction, this standard consists of the requirements of the two groups of people; in the case of the assessment of practice management, it describes the regulations, instruments and behaviour that guarantee smoothly functioning practice operations even under changing requirements.

Benchmarking broadens the perspective

In addition, without a comparison, only about half of the optimisation potential existing in practice operations can be identified.

Likewise, only a comparative view makes it possible to recognise developments and trends, both from the behaviour and actions of other doctors and from patient requirements. Whether one then uses this for one’s own operation is something each practice owner must subsequently decide for himself; the only important thing is that he has transparency about his environment.

Benchmarking protects against rigidity

Last but not least, benchmarking comparisons prevent the development of operational blindness and the solidification of routines. For example, the owner of an ENT practice, who had been running his business for years without any change, was only shaken awake by a comparative analysis in which he scored slightly positively in relation to structurally similar specialised practices, but very poorly in the best practice relations. Thus, it lacked important instruments, procedures and behaviours needed for a smoothly functioning work.

Simple comparison

GPs and specialists who want to determine the status of their practice management with its strengths, weaknesses, threats, opportunities and concrete possibilities for improvement can use the Practice Management Comparison© for this purpose. The validated analysis with best practice and specialist group comparison can be implemented easily and cost-effectively at any time without the need for an on-site consultant.