Benchmarking is the process of evaluating best practices and other metrics used in other organizations and applying them to one’s organization. Health information professionals use benchmarking tools to find more options for a potential solution and bring in new ideas from other organizations. Benchmarking tools also determine specific areas of improvement and the degree of potential for such advancement.
There are four types of benchmarking in healthcare: internal, competitive, functional, and generic. Internal benchmarking functions within an organization and involves offices, departments, or divisions, within the same health facility. Competitive benchmarking is concerned with how partners do business in the same market and provide a direct comparison of products or services. Functional and generic benchmarking are performed at organizations which may have a specific similar function such as payroll or purchasing.
Ideally, benchmarking is a team process as the outcome has to do with changing current practices, with effects felt throughout the organization. The benchmarking team should have members with subject knowledge such as communications and computer skill, facilitation, and sponsorship of senior management. Benchmarking metrics can be categorized in four categories: productivity, quality, time, and cost.
A checklist is simply a form that many health information managers use to record data quickly and easily as well as identify the actions and requirements needed by the organization. Most IT professionals find that using a checklist helps to extract data in a useful manner and effectively register occurrences of events, tasks, incidents, and problems within the organization’s Health Information System.
High reliability organizations (HROs) that carry out hazardous and complex operations, such as aviation and aerospace industry, firefighting, military operations, nuclear power production, and engineering, use checklists as cognitive aids. These organizations have many years of experience with checklist development and implementation.
Flowcharts are used to demonstrate the steps within a given process visually. Most health IT professionals use flowchart tools to find one or more sources of problems within a Health Information System and identify the potential areas that need improvement. Flowchart tools are also used to pinpoint the groups, personnel, and departments responsible for a given process or task and are used to evidently display the flow of people, services and information in a hospital or any health facility. It can show the flow of services in a hospital, from the admission to discharge.
Flowcharts also list the service type that each division in the hospital must deliver for total satisfaction of patients. It shows the flow of services from one unit to the other, strongly indicating all processes to be carried out to achieve a common goal.
Interview tools are used when asking questions about sensitive issues. Health information experts use them to gain insight about the issues that are significant to the users of the system and to collect new ideas, feedback or suggestions needed to improve the Health Information System within an organization. At the beginning of the project, interview tools are important to determine the needs of the users. At the end of the project these tools are needed to clarify findings.
Usability Evaluation Tools
Usability evaluation tools are used to determine the extent of user-friendliness of Health Information Systems. They compare systems prior to procurement, identify necessary improvements needed for a current system, obtain user feedback, and other design suggestions.