Benchmarking is an essential part of improving performance and attaining growth in an organization. Erdil and Erbiyik (2019) clarifies that it involves making analysis to identify areas of improvement, focusing on set standards at the industry and organizational level. The management can use the results to create new strategies and attain competitive advantage in the market. In this study, the concept of benchmarking is assessed by analyzing relevant policies and guidelines at Mercy Medical Center. The facility is committed to delivering quality and safe care to patients in need of acute care. Located in the city of Merced, the 186-bed institution has employed over 1300 employees to carry out various programs, including intensive care, emergency care, surgery, family birthing, and telemetry (Mercy Medical Center, 2021). While the facility has followed state and local-based benchmarks in care, there are several areas of poor performance, including inadequate data to inform decisions, financial constraints, staffing issues, and technological issues. Creating policy and practice guidelines to address such issues is vital in achieve organizational success.
Need To Create Policy and Practice Guidelines
The dashboard benchmark for mercy medical discloses that the facility does not meet the threshold of collecting the total number of new patients. Comparators are also not indicated, making it daunting to determine the adequacy of resources. Information on staff, affirmative action, and facilities for staff members is also inadequate. Besides this, the organization does not have sufficient resources to execute its mandate satisfactorily. For instance, it does not have modern technology to deliver efficient services. The numbers of trained staff members are also relatively low, while budget is constrained. A new policy and practice guidelines is needed to improve outcomes in the facility.
Policy and practice guidelines are beneficial for Mercy Medical in various ways. Foremost, it provides the stakeholders with a clear understanding of what is expected of them and why making improvements is vital. The management has a tool to use when providing feedback, detailing how the stakeholders are performing compared to the expectations by the hospital, local, and state governments (Busse et al., 2019). It is also useful in recognizing and rewarding employees demonstrating commitment to delivering quality and safe care. In this case, the policy and practice guidelines should cover critical areas of service delivery, including decision-making, job knowledge, communication, forming and maintaining healthy work relationships, and attaining excellence. On the management part, the practice guidelines should covers various areas such as improving workplace diversity, offering effective leadership, and career development for staff members.
Remarkably, clinical practice guidelines are a part of evidence-based care and hence designed to optimize patient care. It refers to conscientious and explicit use of best evidence to make clinical decisions, eliminating bias and enhancing patient experience (Busse et al., 2019). Developing clinical practices to address benchmark issues at Mercy Medical will meet policy maker’s needs and answer their questions on shortfalls in benchmarks using the best possible evidence. Practice variations are reduced and instead, research is translated to practice. The process leads to increased stakeholder’s support, high quality care, and minimal disruption of the facility’s operations.
On the other hand, failing to make changes affects the organization’s ability to attain its vision and mission. Its vision incorporates the element of promoting a healthier future for everyone, while its mission seeks to improve the health of its target patients. The management cannot attain this unless it addresses gaps in a lack of resources and failure to utilize data in decision-making (Erdil & Erbiyik, 2019. Patient satisfaction, job engagement, reputation, and growth and sustainability will be affected adversely in the end. The government and other stakeholders are also likely to fine the facility or subject it to legal suits, affecting its efficiency and effectiveness.
Proposed Organizational Policy/ Practice Change
To address shortfalls in the benchmarking report, it is proposed that a new policy and practice change guidelines are created to improve performance. The new organizational policy will involve training workers on embracing new attitude and behaviors to meet quality standards proposed by the government. Workshops and online training programs are necessary in this case, focusing on various quality improvement issues, including safety, evidence-based practices, patient-centered care, planning, data analysis, reporting, and audits. It should also cover reflection and learning, teamwork, accountability, professionalism, systems thinking, and risk management.
Other than training, the facility must improve its data management processes to attain efficiency and quality of care. The information and technology department should create user-friendly software to keep and manage patient data. Devising a mobile-friendly application is also worth considering to assist healthcare providers in tracking health progress and communicating with patients. Importantly, the hospital should mobilize resources to improve its financial performance, find qualified staff members, and attain the desired data management threshold. Involving both the governmental and non-governmental organizations is critical in this case. The community members should also be allowed to make contributions and suggestions on quality improvement.
Both internal and external environmental factors will affect the implementation of the proposed policy and practice changes. Internally, the employees may resist changes if they do not possess the necessary skills, time, and understanding. The management may also find it daunting to change the schedule and budget to accommodate, application of new technologies, and mobilize resources (Erdil & Erbiyik, 2019). On the other hand, finding support from the staff members and the management will lead to positive outcomes. The external environment factors such as policy changes, technology evolution, and changes in patient perceptions may promote or hinder the implementation process. Analyzing the risks and possible course of action is therefore pertinent.
Ethical Evidence-Based Practice and Stakeholder Group’s Impact
Stakeholder engagement is strengthened when proposed guidelines and practice changes are based on ethics and evidence. Stakeholders make decisions based on unique perspectives on a subject; their understanding of the actions, outcomes, and risks involved in changing policies and clinical guidelines to meet targeted benchmarking performance will determine whether they support or oppose the process (Quanbeck, 2019). Accordingly, the best possible evidence should be presented to shape stakeholder’s opinions and perceptions of the subject. For instance, revealing the possible improvements associated with training will lead to positive attitudes toward the proposed policy and practice. Similarly, demonstrating the adverse impact of failure to train workers will create an urgent need for changes.
Ethical practices and values are associated with positive outcomes in healthcare. The principles guiding providers include beneficence, professionalism, justice, and beneficence. Stakeholders are likely to support the proposed changes if they perceive that the process will promote the well-being of the majority (Quanbeck, 2019). Indeed, demonstrating that the perceived gains of the changes are more than the perceived losses will lead to more stakeholder engagement and support. The process of eliciting support should involve identifying key stakeholders, determining ethical values associated with the proposed change, and using the identified values when communicating with the stakeholders.
Importance of Involving Specific Stakeholders
Specific stakeholders must be involved in implementing policy changes at Mercy Medical Center. It is inclusive of patients, staff members, the management, investors, community leaders, and the local government. The stakeholders are important in informing the organization on the patient needs and how to meet them effectively (Nair, 2020). For instance, staff members, investors, and government leaders can explain the performance metrics in detail and reveal how the organization can shape its practices and training to attain the expected standards. Put differently, the management can align its policy changes with societal expectations. The stakeholders are also needed to provide the support and resources needed to implement policy changes. Even further, creating an organization that involves the contributions and feedback of critical stakeholders is associated with transparency, accountability, and professionalism. Patients are likely to support such organizations, leading to growth and sustainability despite the current changes in policies and practice guidelines. The quality and trustworthiness of the policy and new practices is increased as a result.
Strategies for Collaboration with Stakeholders to Implement New Policies and Practices
Attaining stakeholder collaboration will involve four major strategies. The first one is stakeholder mapping, ensuring that the right stakeholders are identified based on organizational needs and goals. Li et al. (2022) indicate that it is essential to identify their values to determine the ideal way of influencing their perceptions on the policy and practice changes. Second, it is important to communicate the need and impact of policy changes clearly and in detail. It may necessitate the use of different methods of communication, including sending e-mails, holding meetings for verbal communication, and use of social media. Providing timely feedback is critical in addressing possible concerns in the policy. Third, stakeholder collaboration can be fostered through developing and communicating a shared goal and vision for the policy change. The health facility seeks to enhance the quality and accessibility of healthcare in the community. Stakeholders can work together to implement new policies and practices if they are aligned with this vision. Nair (2020) emphasizes the need to inform stakeholders of their roles and responsibilities in attaining the goal to create a sense of harmony and support in the process. Ground rules must also be defined from the onset. Fourth, stakeholder collaboration is attainable if the organization creates tools to monitor and evaluate the implementation process and outcomes. It may be inclusive of reports, external audits, and surveys. Doing so allows the stakeholders to track how the proposed changes are related to organizational performance.
All in all, changing the policy and practices at Mercy Medical Center is necessary in addressing benchmark performance issues. The center has fallen short of meeting statutory and local guidelines on quality because of a lack of resources and ineffective data management processes. A new policy is needed to train workers, employ new data management systems, and mobilize resources. It paves the way performance improvement through evidence-based practice and ethical principles. The stakeholders must be involved in creating and implementing the proposed changes to solicit their input and support in the process. Adopting effective collaboration strategies such as stakeholder mapping, communicating the shared vision clearly, and monitoring performance is imperative in attaining the expected goals.
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Mercy Medical Center, (2021). Community benefit 2021 report and 2022 plan. https://www.dignityhealth.org/content/dam/dignity-health/documents/cb-reports-2021/Mercy-Merced-CBreport2021-Final.pdf
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