Benchmarking: What is the Blood Pressure and Pulse of the Lab?

When is the last time you have taken or had your blood pressure checked? Was the reading representative of past readings? Did you find that it was elevated when you were in the doctor’s office and leave with a prescription or intent to pay more attention to keeping it in check through diet and/or exercise? If you aren’t checking your blood pressure or pulse regularly, you may be at risk for a major health event that actually could be prevented.

Most patients report that their blood pressure is only a snapshot of that moment because they compare it to other readings taken over time—it may be higher or lower in comparison. While most people blame elevated results on “white coat syndrome,” in the patient world, this is a form of benchmarking. Benchmarking laboratory costs and productivity is closely related to taking your blood pressure. One benchmarking report is a dynamic snapshot in time of your laboratory, but subsequent reports show trends and opportunities to effect positive change.

If you work in a clinical laboratory and have not benchmarked its costs and productivity, how do you know what the pulse or “blood pressure” of the laboratory is in comparison to peers? How is it performing? After all, if you benchmarked the laboratory and saw opportunities for improvement in the health of the laboratory, you would be more aware or research ways to make improvements, right? In a climate of cost reductions, staff reductions, and the like, it is much more prudent to know where you stand and support it with data.

The value of benchmarking is achieved at the highest level when a clinical laboratory decides to complete a baseline benchmarking analysis to determine its health in comparison to peers. The value continues to be driven by ongoing analysis and trending generated at intervals of three months or more. These ongoing reports provide practical management guidance and insight into performance improvement progress or setbacks that may signal the need for a “comeback.” The comeback is achieved once the laboratory has identified the largest opportunities for improvement and then drills down deeper into the data to determine action steps to make them happen!

Dori Cheng
Business Analyst
Chi Solutions, Inc., an Accumen company