While opening a single-specialty group practice, its initiators may face numerous financial, managerial, and performance-related challenges. However, irrespective of their type and specialty, all healthcare facilities and organizations should deliver holistic, high-quality, effective, and affordable medical services to their customers. Therefore, in order to ensure successful performance of their practice, the founders should employ methods of financial benchmarking, utilize pertinent technological advancements, and anticipate the occurrence of risks.
Implementation of Financial Benchmarking for Improvements in a Group Medical Practice
Being increasingly recognized as a potent managerial approach, benchmarking involves consistent activities aimed at finding, evaluating, comparing, learning, and applying exemplary models of organizational performance. Benchmarking methods, elements, or particular steps allow increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of a medical practice due to their relative universality and adaptability to various work improvement systems in health care (Zelmer et al., 2017). Van Veen-Berkx, Korne, Olivier, Bal, and Kazemier (2016) accentuate that methods of internal and external financial benchmarking are implemented to meet different goals.
Internal benchmarking implies the use of the best experience of internal divisions of a healthcare institution. Its strategic purpose is to examine and assess business processes that ensure the functioning of a medical practice without taking into account the external factors and impacts of competitors. According to van Veen-Berkx et al. (2016), this approach “focuses on performance measurement and comparing within one organisation over time” (p. 1173). Internal benchmarking can serve as a tool for detecting and eliminating problematic business processes arising from the application of ineffective or underdeveloped strategies.
External benchmarking involves the analysis and utilization of commendable and efficient practices of other organizations, both medical and non-medical. The strategic purpose of external financial benchmarking is to identify and adopt practices of the superior competitors that effectively manage assets, command financial resources, and “deliver exemplary patient service” (van Veen-Berkx et al., 2016, p. 1174). In terms of prospective economic profitability of a group medical practice, external benchmarking allows forecasting and, consequently, avoiding possible performance gaps.
Applying benchmarking as financial planning tool for the given medical practice, its founders will be able to allocate resources rationally, reduce the number of costly ineffective treatment methods, and decrease the duration of the delivery of services. In addition, referring to the best experiences of similar institutions, they can curtail expenditures for the benefits of their own practice. Therefore, this approach is of paramount importance for this start-up organization.
Recommendations for the Health Information Technology System
Today, all excellence-oriented healthcare settings apply Health Information Technology (HIT) systems. Reliable HIT systems reduce operating and administrative costs of medical practices by improving timely communication, efficiency, and quality (Zelmer et al., 2017, p. 272). Given the complexity and multidimensionality of healthcare information, a HIT system should incorporate electronic health records (EHRs) (Saleem et al., 2015; Zelmer et al., 2017). Concerning the significance of health records for the new medical practice, the documentation should involve accurate, holistic, and updatable information about every patient’s risk factors, results of regular examinations, evaluation of a disease progression, concomitant conditions, assigned medications and therapeutic procedures, patient-reported problems, and so on. The comprehensiveness and accuracy of documentation lead to a decrease in possible complications and hospital readmissions.
Within the framework of this medical practice, the application of the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) with an incorporated function of EHRs can be recommended due to its following advantages:
- The CPRS can be easily integrated with other software applications through its graphical user interface (Saleem et al., 2015, p. 502). Thus, its functionality can be upgraded and expanded to correspond to the emerging needs of an organization.
- Via this software, healthcare providers can order medications, assess results of laboratory testing, perform consultations, and document actions (Saleem et al., 2015).
- This software can be installed in all wards, providing opportune information about patients, improving clinical workflow, and ensuring effective timely care (Saleem et al., 2015, p. 506).
Risk Mitigation Strategy
Although the computerization of the clinical practice is a constituent of contemporary health care systems, the area of technology is associated with various risks and hazards. As noted by Magrabi et al. (2015), one of the main technology-related hazards is the deterioration of safety and quality of clinical care (p. 870). For instance, the application of CPRS and EHRs poses obligatory requirements for healthcare providers’ IT skills and competence. Moreover, the software used in a setting may not adequately support required clinical tasks. However, recent research conducted by Magrabi et al. (2015) reports hazards caused by errors in using computers and other software in routine activities that entail patient harm and negatively influence health care delivery as a whole. Specifically, an elderly male patient lapsed into a hypoglycemic coma because he had been mistakenly given glimepiride due to data incorrectly and incompletely inserted in the hospital CPRS (Magrabi et al., 2015). Thus, errors in historical records or prescribing medication pose threats to patient safety.
In order to minimize impacts of technology-associated risks and hazards on the medical practice, the following multicomponent strategy is suggested:
- External benchmarking of the software used in clinical practices akin to this one.
- Collaboration with experts in information technology at the outset of the project to acquire the software that fits the scope of the medical practice.
- Employment of a deliberately trained informaticist for the purposes of ongoing surveillance of the software, maintaining the CPRS functionality, and ensuring flawless operations.
- Regulation of access rights.
- The obligatory personification of inserted data.
- Medical professionals’ training in the utilization of the software.
Functions of the Medical Practice During Natural Disasters
Devastating consequences of natural disasters and public health emergencies pose requirements for the functionality and preparedness of health care facilities, regardless of their specialty. In such circumstances, the continuation of health care, treatment provision, coordination of activities, and communication with emergency management agencies are overwhelmingly important functions of the medical practice (Kajihara, Munechika, Kaneko, Sano, & Jin, 2016). In addition, the functionality of an electrical power system, water supply, air conditioning, and IT and computing services should be maintained for the purposes of patient safety. However, the performance of hospitals and other clinical institutions is complicated by arising medical needs of affected populations.
To maintain communication with medical personnel and inpatients, preserve health and financial records, and ensure the availability of resources needed for medical aid delivery, upper-level managers of this practice should develop an emergency response plan or a matrix of functions and make all employees aware of operations and procedures (Kajihara et al., 2016). The plan should also determine control and command mechanisms, duties and responsibilities of every professional, a sequence of actions, evacuation mechanisms, and procedure manuals. This approach will enable the organization “to respond to a disruptive incident and deal appropriately with the resumption and recovery of its activities” (Kajihara et al., 2016, p. 147). In addition, systematic training and implementation efforts will contribute to the personnel preparedness and skills in emergency management.
Summing up, in order to become a highly sought clinical setting, the administration and personnel of this medical practice should adjust the quality of services to the national standards and performance of excellent organizations. The application of external benchmarking will provide valuable insight into the activities of leaders in health care while internal benchmarking will allow sharing and boosting promising methods of this medical practice. Consistently planning improvements, the organization will achieve success and avoid risks.
Kajihara, C., Munechika, M., Kaneko, M., Sano, M., & Jin, H. (2016). A matrix of the functions and organizations that ensure continued healthcare services in a disaster. Quality, Innovation, Prosperity, 20(2), 145-156. Web.
Magrabi, F., Liaw, S. T., Arachi, D., Runciman, W., Coiera, E., & Kidd, M. R. (2015). Identifying patient safety problems associated with information technology in general practice: An analysis of incident reports. BMJ Quality & Safety, 25(11), 870-880. Web.
Saleem, J. J., Plew, W. R., Speir, R. C., Herout, J., Wilck, N. R., Ryan, D. M.,… & Phillips, T. (2015). Understanding barriers and facilitators to the use of Clinical Information Systems for intensive care units and Anesthesia Record Keeping: A rapid ethnography. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 84(7), 500-511. Web.
Van Veen-Berkx, E., de Korne, D. F., Olivier, O. S., Bal, R. A., & Kazemier, G. (2016). Benchmarking operating room departments in the Netherlands: Evaluation of a benchmarking collaborative between eight university medical centres. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 23(5), 1171-1192. Web.
Zelmer, J., Ronchi, E., Hyppönen, H., Lupiáñez-Villanueva, F., Codagnone, C., Nøhr, C.,… & Adler-Milstein, J. (2017). International health IT benchmarking: Learning from cross-country comparisons. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 24(2), 371-379. Web.