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Benchmarking: a method for continuous quality improvement in health care

Author(s): Ettorchi-Tardy A | Levif M | Michel Ph

Journal: Pratiques et Organisation des Soins
ISSN 1952-9201

Volume: 42;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 35;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Benchmarking | quality indicators | healthcare | outcome and process assessment | professional practice.

The benchmarking, a managerial process of best practices implementation at the best cost, is a recent concept in the health system. The objectives of this paper were to define the concept and its evolution in the healthcare sector, to suggest an operational definition and to describe French and international ways of implementing benchmarking in healthcare. A non-exhaustive literature review was carried out in the industrial and service sectors to answer the first two objectives and in the healthcare sector the latter one. Benchmarking is most often used for the comparison of indicators. It is yet not perceived as a tool based on a voluntary and active cooperation among several organizations to build emulation and implement best practices. The main characteristic of a real benchmarking approach in indeed to participate in a global and participative continuous improvement. Among the key factors of success, are an appropriate and thorough preparation of the project, a monitoring based on relevant indicators, frontline staff involvement and inter-healthcare organisation visits.Compared to methods previously implemented in France (Breakthough series and Collaboratives), benchmarking includes specificities which enable this approach to be considered as innovative in healthcare. Specifically, its implementation by healthcare or social organisations will be perceived as new because the principle of visits inter-institutions do not belong to the local culture. An evaluation of its feasibility and acceptability is therefore necessary before generalisation.Prat Organ Soins. 2011;42(1):35-46
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