Benchmarking, KPIs, Quality: How does it all fit in and why is it important in Dentistry?

I feel like some weeks I live at Home Depot.  This week, I needed to get a new spark plug for the power washer.  So, I went in to search first on my own.  Well, like most times, I really didn’t know where to look and just couldn’t find it.  So, I find an orange apron person and they tell me it’s in Aisle whatever.  I go to aisle whatever and sure enough, I still can’t find it….mostly because I really don’t know what I am looking for!  Frustrated, I ask another orange apron person in the aisle and they finally point it out.   Contrast this experience with the experience I have at Whole Foods.  I love going to Whole Foods!  It’s more about the experience when I get there.  If I don’t know where something is, I don’t get told where it is, I get shown where it is!  The first time I asked, someone walked me to the exact isle and showed me exactly where it was kept.  At first, I thought I had just been lucky to find the right person.  However, what I have found over the years of shopping there, every….single….time I ask, someone always shows me where the thing I am looking for is located.  Every time!  That is GREAT customer service and what all of our teams should be aspiring to do. 

We need to know where we are going, and what we are looking for don’t we?  Well, it’s the same in our business.  We need to know where we want to go in order to create the plan to get there.  I’ll add one more ingredient to the mix:  You also need to know WHY you want to go there, however, I’m going to leave that discussion for another day. 

Benchmarking, key performance indicators (KPIs) and quality come into play as a way to support our plan.  In the simplest terms, benchmarking is the process of comparing how we are performing what we do to the industry standard or best practice for the industry.  Most commonly this is measured with KPIs.  Commonly what we measure revolves around time, cost and quality. 

Robert Camp  developed a 12 stage approach to benchmarking:

  1. Select the Subject
    1. What you want to study, improve, measure
  2. Define the Process
    1. How are you going to study, improve, measure
  3. Identify Potential Partners
    1. Everyone on the team should be involved
  4. Identify Data Sources
    1. Where are you going to get the information: reports, conversations?
  5. Collect Data and Select Partners
  6. Determine the Gap
    1. What is the difference between where you are and where you want to go?
  7. Establish Process Differences
    1. What do you need to do to improve?
  8. Target Future Performance
    1. What do you want the future to look like?
  9. Communicate
    1. Everyone on the team has to be heading in the same direction and believe in the goal.
  10. Adjust the goal
    1. Adjust as necessary
  11. Implement
    1. Implement improvement strategies that the team has agreed to
  12. Review and recalibrate
    1. Review at monthly staff meetings to celebrate success and strive for the next improvement

Using the above approach, you can help your team become engaged in improving where your practice is vs. where you want it to be.  Using benchmarks will help you achieve your vision for your future engaging your team in the process.  If you take the time to engage your team in your vision, show them how to get there by benchmarking and having goals to work towards, you can step back and watch them support you in the journey.  It’s amazing the difference in telling someone what to do vs. showing them, isn’t it? 

The next part will go into more details on KPIs.  Stay tuned!