Hospital lab benchmarking is the process whereby a hospital laboratory measures its external quality and financial sustainability against peer hospital laboratories in the medical field. Through Q-Probes and similar methods of data collection, organizations such as the College of American Pathologists and Accumen gather relevant information about a wide range of laboratories to determine the quality and standards that these labs pursue. These companies then help hospital labs use benchmarking to measure their laboratory performance against fellow laboratories and determine whether any changes or improvements need to be made. Labs are only measured against peer laboratories to ensure a fair comparison.
The goal of hospital and clinical benchmarking is to provide a fair, peer-to-peer measurement of operational performance, quality performance, integrated clinical care performance, and financial performance. Ultimately, a medical laboratory must find another laboratory receiving a parallel number of tests and requests and compare its own performance to that of the peer laboratory.
That way, each lab can determine whether it is performing at the same standard as other laboratories functioning at the same level in terms of test count and processes completed. After a benchmarking test, a lab can also address any issues in its governance, research, or clinical care practices.
Hospital laboratories and other laboratories in the medical field deal with a high level of complexity on a daily basis. Multiple individuals work within multiple departments within laboratory facilities, yet all are ultimately focused on providing accurate testing practices and results for clinicians and patients in the world at large. Benchmarking is one way in which laboratories can improve laboratory medicine practices for clinicians and patients by discovering issues in their processes and working to find solutions as quickly as possible and improve their integrated clinical care performance.
To be truly fair and provide each lab with an apples-to-apples comparison, benchmarking requires an accurate measurement of the request ratios and testing capacity of each laboratory. Some commercial laboratories perform a high volume of outpatient tests, for example, and shouldn’t be compared to a clinical laboratory performing tests at a significantly lower volume. Some laboratories also use more automation or operate in a region with a different cost of living or population density, either of which can become a significant factor in laboratory performance. Accumen provides for highly advanced filtering services so that hospital labs can find a lab with equal parameters and complete a truly fair and accurate benchmark.
Once a laboratory finds an appropriate match, it can study the various processes and practices that it shares with that lab to determine whether it is working up to the same standards. If it appears to be falling behind in turnaround time (TAT), test quantity, report accuracy, or various other practices, it can work toward improving its shortcomings based on what other benchmarked labs are doing. Ultimately, the goal of benchmarking is improving laboratory performance across the board.
Below are some aspects of Hospital Lab Benchmarking worth consideration:
Benchmarking is a crucial process for every processing and testing lab, whether that be a blood lab, clinical lab, or a diagnostic lab. The executives who are running such specialized labs must probe into the inner workings of laboratory performance to examine not only care performance for patients but also aspects like external quality and financial sustainability. Benchmarking allows blood labs, clinical labs, and diagnostic labs to discover peers in their areas of expertise and perform an accurate measurement of how their processes and operational performance measure up to national standards and expectations.
Around the world, blood labs process blood tests to provide clinicians and patients a deeper understanding of how patients’ bodies are functioning. Clinical labs study specimens drawn from blood and other areas of the body to find abnormalities and figure out what they mean. And diagnosis labs take the blood tests and create diagnoses for patients based on the results. Each one of these labs is incredibly important for helping clinicians diagnose patients and create better treatment options. However, timely and appropriate test results are absolutely crucial for these labs to operate and help patients.
Accumen provides benchmarking services for various hospital laboratories, including blood lab benchmarking, clinical lab benchmarking, and diagnostic lab benchmarking. Benchmarking services are useful for these laboratories because they provide an accurate view of how the processes in place are affecting external quality and overall performance. In blood labs, benchmarking reveals areas in which labs may need to streamline the process of collecting and testing blood samples to more quickly and efficiently provide answers to clinicians and patients in the pursuit of clinical care.
In clinical labs, clinical benchmarking provides room for evaluating processes and tools that can help these labs improve the speed and accuracy of their test results. And in a diagnostic laboratory, benchmarking showcases expected TAT standards so any type of laboratory can provide time-equivalent diagnoses for patients from outpatient tests, allowing for more efficient and effective clinical care performance.
Accumen lab benchmarking enables laboratories to measure performance standards for collecting, analyzing, and diagnosing blood samples alongside other laboratories performing the same tasks. With appropriate benchmarking, each lab can consider why it runs its business as it does and whether there might not be a better way to run the business based on findings in peer laboratories. Such a comprehensive view allows for laboratories of all kinds to develop better processes as they pursue appropriate blood testing, evaluation, and diagnosis practices.
Every individual needs someone from the outside (preferably someone who has been in their position before) to evaluate their performance and help them make wise decisions. Laboratories are no different. As labs grow and expand their business practices, it’s crucial that they pursue more efficient and effective practices so they can provide better patient care, lower internal and external costs, and expand their service offerings. Every laboratory needs to take the time to evaluate how well it is meeting the needs of clinicians and patients and change the processes that are affecting their performance.
However, it is incredibly difficult to develop more effective processes without the opportunity to see how similar labs perform the same tasks in more efficient and appropriate ways. Benchmarking allows each laboratory to take a close look at how its peers operate and then make wise, balanced decisions about what changes it may need to implement to improve its operational performance.
With a broad view of how its practices align with other laboratories and with governmental regulations, each lab can determine whether it is doing a good job of providing integrated clinical care, maintaining financial sustainability, and improving overall operational performance. When a lab can clearly see and measure its performance quality against its peers, it begins to improve its own practices for a higher performance quality. More benchmarking will ultimately result in labs improving performance and providing higher-quality integrated clinical care to the clinicians and, thereby, the patients with whom they work.
Of course, for benchmarking practices to have any effect, it is crucial that labs only benchmark against labs of parallel test volume and medical practices. At times, it is difficult to determine truly parallel laboratories for appropriate benchmarking. One of the essential aspects of Accumen benchmarking is the granular requirements it uses to find and select peers for measuring medical laboratory performance.
Accumen strives to understand a lab’s test complexity, test volume, automation, regional variations, and more to determine whether a lab-to-lab match will provide a truly fair comparison. Medical laboratories can’t be expected to provide the same performance metrics as a laboratory in a completely different area or with much fewer tests coming in. With a truly equal comparison, labs can create more realistic expectations for their clinical care performance.
However, benchmarking laboratory performance is useful for more than simply helping laboratories change their practices. It can also help labs meet the quality standards set by the nation or local governing bodies to monitor operational performance and clinical care performance. Every lab is required to meet standards set by various governing bodies, whether those be internal or external, to ensure that every patient gets quality service.
Accumen’s benchmarking solution allows labs to view their practices alongside peer hospital laboratories or commercial laboratories as well as alongside state and national regulations. That way, labs can ensure they are meeting the requirements of various governing bodies (insurance companies, state agencies, internal leadership, national healthcare agencies, etc.) while also viewing the performance standards of fellow laboratories in their sphere.
With such a comparison in mind, labs can determine how they are performing in relation to their peers while still maintaining the work performance quality necessary to keep the lab in favor with governing bodies. Once they determine that they are meeting those crucial requirements, they can dedicate their time to performing the necessary functions to keep their lab afloat and meeting production and financial requirements.
Outpatient labs play a crucial role in helping clinicians serve patients in an outpatient setting rather than in a hospital that runs in-house hospital laboratories. When clinicians running a private outpatient practice see patients who come in for periodic care or testing, they often send blood samples and tests to an outpatient medical laboratory such as a diagnostic laboratory or a clinical laboratory. These outpatient labs must review bloodwork and tests and return the results in a timely manner so that clinicians can quickly and effectively treat patients.
Benchmarking medical labs is an essential activity that aids outpatient labs and medical labs in achieving the effective and efficient process patients and clinicians are looking for.
Most outpatient laboratories operate as commercial laboratories. Therefore, these labs must run an outreach program so that they can find and connect with outpatient offices to serve. Running an outreach program calls for marketing practices; marketing practices call for labs to have a clear idea of how their laboratory performance compares in the medical laboratory world so they can showcase their expertise and performance quality to potential clients.
To effectively run an outreach campaign, an outpatient lab needs to know the standards of operational performance that an outpatient clinic should expect from it. Outpatient labs must meet the standards that other labs in their industry have established, such as the standards for expected TAT, the standards for high-quality test results, and the standards for running the appropriate volume of tests and requests. To do so, each lab has to know how long other labs generally take to return results and how those labs provide quality results and maintain an appropriate test volume without becoming overwhelmed.
Benchmarking helps outpatient labs uncover and understand these expected performance standards by measuring its practices against peer medical labs and outpatient labs across the nation. When a lab sees the expectations that peer labs have set for their clinicians and patients, it can work to set and meet those same expectations in its own clinical care and external quality and therefore build a marketing strategy that highlights how well it serves its clients.
In addition, medical labs of any type, but especially outpatient labs, need a way to evaluate how much expense they incur during the treatment of a patient. Understanding this is crucial to help labs improve financial sustainability and provide only the truly essential care that patients need. However, it is not uncommon for care providers to order unnecessary tests that simply end up becoming an unnecessary expense. Benchmarking is one way that labs can determine what unnecessary tests may have been ordered based on what tests other labs are using. This, in turn, helps labs determine how they could lower expenses by using fewer or more efficient tests to provide more streamlined care performance.
Accumen helps outpatient laboratories benchmark specifically against other labs with the same volume and practices. Though an outpatient lab may have the same test count as nearby hospital laboratories, they may have a much higher volume of patient work because of their outreach program. Accumen can filter results so that benchmarking only takes place between labs that have outreach programs as well as testing procedures. That way, outpatient labs can connect with and measure their time management, operational practices, and test performance against one another to ensure that clinicians can expect (and receive) the same standards of clinical care performance and TAT across the board.
Pathology laboratories provide incredibly complex services. Creating a pathology report requires that pathologists in a lab have an in-depth knowledge of specific specimens that might be found in the human body as well as the accompanying diseases or disorders that give rise to such specimens. Therefore, many pathology labs are incredibly specialized and even sub-specialized. Such precise sub-specialization can make it challenging to find a benchmarking peer in other hospital laboratories that may sub-specialize in something similar in theory, but different in application.
Accumen can help with benchmarking pathology lab services more specifically by using peer groups rather than single peer laboratories.
With Accumen, pathology labs learn how to focus on business procedures and operational performance to determine how, as a whole, their lab compares to other pathology labs in different specializations. Such benchmarking allows for a close comparison of business practices, TAT, and test complexity in any equivalent medical laboratory.
If there is no specific peer group for a pathology lab to measure against, Accumen can help labs discover similar businesses in the medical sphere and evaluate their overall business performance in that sphere. Labs can then examine why they do business the way they do and if it’s effective for their overall performance and financial sustainability. With that in mind, labs can decide whether it would be more cost-effective to adopt different business practices that others in their sphere may already be implementing.
In addition to helping pathology labs with benchmarking, Accumen can provide a broader look at how pathology labs can meet care performance standards. Accumen has established objective laboratory performance standards based on the external quality and operational performance of labs in the same overall sphere. With this information gathered from clinical benchmarking, Accumen can help labs take a step back and look at the performance and financial sustainability standards they should be meeting based on the sizes and volumes of the tests they are evaluating.
This overview allows pathology labs to take a detailed look at how long their testing and communication processes should be taking and how they could improve their TAT and business processes to provide more efficient clinical care performance. With a broad view of how its practices fit into the sphere of pathology laboratories and hospital laboratories as an entire sphere, each pathology lab can determine the metrics it needs to meet to create a more effective and financially sustainable business.
Reference labs provide incredibly specialized care. Many reference labs take the work from hospital laboratories and run complex testing in sub-specialized areas. Benchmarking is essential to help reference labs create a sustainable model for laboratory performance based on the performance of hospital laboratories and commercial laboratories working in the same specialized field. Rather than measuring reference labs by geographic region, Accumen compares these labs by discipline. Therefore, if a reference lab works in clinical chemistry, Accumen can measure it against other chemistry labs using the same equipment, allowing for improved accuracy in benchmarking metrics.
When benchmarking reference labs, Accumen helps labs keep a close eye on other operational performance metrics such as how well they transfer and utilize high-quality specimens for testing and diagnosis. This type of tracking allows reference labs to create a more streamlined process for transferring specimens and using the data collected to create healthcare solutions. With a better process, reference labs can increase their quantity and TAT for a better output, better external quality, and increased financial sustainability from the lab as a unit.
Benchmarking for reference labs proves a useful tool for improving performance metrics and financial sustainability. By enabling reference labs to increase their output and improve their laboratory performance internally, benchmarking enables these labs to provide better clinical care performance for the clinicians and hospitals they work for, thereby creating better results for patients. This ultimately allows labs to use their money, time, and resources better so they maintain a competitive edge among their peers and effectively meet local and national requirements.
Hospital lab benchmarking is the process whereby hospital labs, reference labs, clinical labs, and other medical-based labs find peer laboratories around the world and compare their processes against those of their peers. Labs use benchmarking to determine how they compare with other labs that are performing the same work. They compare their business processes, financial sustainability, laboratory performance, and clinical care performance to determine whether they meet national expectations. Benchmarking helps labs determine what processes to improve, how to increase profitability, and how to maintain compliance with local and national regulations.
The costs for hospital lab benchmarking vary considerably across laboratories. Each lab has unique departments, processes, technology resources, programs, test volumes, and test complexity levels that can drastically affect how much it will have to pay for appropriate benchmarking against other laboratories at its peer level.
To benchmark a hospital lab, you must find another hospital lab with parallel services, departments, technology resources, programs, test volumes, and test complexity. Then, you must compare your overall performance and financial sustainability to that of this peer laboratory.
Accumen has an advanced benchmarking service that allows laboratories to find peer laboratories with little effort. Its highly specified processes allow hospital labs to toggle multiple requirements on and off so that each lab can find a truly fair apples-to-apples comparison for making benchmarking decisions. If you find that your lab doesn’t have an exact match to compare to, Accumen provides clear standards so that you can effectively benchmark against yourself, whether that means as a whole facility or on a department by department, individual by individual basis.
There are multiple companies that specialize in benchmarking for hospital labs. Accumen is one of the most well-known hospital benchmarking solutions available. Our highly-specialized benchmarking solution provides hospitals with relevant information to determine the best labs to benchmark against. We also provide clear information on standards and best practices so that labs can improve their performance and financial sustainability not only as measured against other labs but as measured against national expectations for specific labs. We help hospital labs save money, decrease TAT, manage processes and tests more effectively, and create a sustainable and scalable business model to work within.