October 2001

Catholic Health Initiatives Undertakes System-wide Initiative for Operational Benchmarking

Catholic Health Initiatives has initiated a system-wide process for operational benchmarking to help market-based organizations improve processes, reduce costs and achieve performance breakthroughs.

"Manufacturing industries have successfully used benchmarking for years to improve performance, but it has only recently begun to gain popularity in health care," said Ruth Brinkley, senior vice president of performance management for Catholic Health Initiatives. "Companies such as Toyota and IBM have mastered the art of learning from themselves and others, then using that learning to achieve outstanding performance."

Catholic Health Initiatives is using the PEERnext operational benchmarking product, recently purchased by Solucient from General Electric Medical Systems Healthcare Solutions (GEMS HcS), for its benchmarking initiative. "During the past two years, our market-based organizations have done a great deal to reduce costs and improve performance," said Brinkley. "But, we know that there are still more opportunities, especially in work and process redesign. However, making improvements in those areas requires data and information that can identify best practices and the components of those practices. That is what effective benchmarking can do."

The PEERnext benchmarking process consists of three phases:
· Data collection and verification.
· Custom report development.
· Continuous process improvement initiatives.

Data collection within Catholic Health Initiatives began in July 2001. "This phase has been critical, because accurate data are required to accurately compare and improve performance," said Brinkley.

The second phase, custom report development, will produce facility-specific reports that will compare each facility to others with similar services and scope of operations. "These reports will include summaries of potential opportunities for improvement by department, which may provide a ‘road map’ to improved performance," said Brinkley. "We hope to make these reports available by the end of November so they can be used as part of the budget planning process for fiscal year 2003."

During the third phase, each facility will evaluate its performance improvement opportunities, implement a customized plan and measure the results.Each facility that is participating in the benchmarking process has an assigned GEMS HcS account manager and a performance management team member who can work with executive and management teams on data collection and report interpretation.

Once reports are completed, the performance management team member can assist with action plan development and measurement of results. As a result of the purchase of PEERnext by Solucient, account activity will transition to Solucient beginning in 2002. However, Solucient expects that many Catholic Health Initiatives facilities will retain their existing account managers.

For more information on the benchmarking initiative, market-based leaders should contact their GEMS HcS account manager or Ruth Brinkley at ruthbrinkley@chi-national.org.