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Benchmarking in healthcare essay ..
In 1992, for the first time, G.J. Balm defined benchmarking as a CQI approach. Extending beyond the simple collection of information and comparisons with competitors, it became based on an exchange that allowed organizations to understand how best performances were achieved so that they could adapt the best ideas to their own practices. This expanded benchmarking approach involved, on the one hand, standardizing all key processes, and on the other, measuring one's organization not only against direct competitors, but also against non-competitor businesses recognized as being "best in class" (BIC). Finally, it also involved focusing on comparative measures that are of interest to the organization's users (Balm 1992; Pitarelli and Monnier 2000).
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Thus, from its beginnings as a quantitative approach, benchmarking has evolved towards a qualitative approach. Initially, competitive benchmarking measured an organization's performance against the competition. Then comparative benchmarking focused on comparing similar functions in different organizations, the advantage of this approach being that it moderated the competitive aspect and provided opportunities for learning. Collaborative benchmarking involves sharing knowledge about a particular activity with the goal of improving the field being studied. Clinical practice benchmarking involves structured comparisons of processes and the sharing of best practices in clinical care; it is based on quality assessment and is integrated within a CQI approach. Finally, Essence of Care is a sophisticated approach to clinical practice benchmarking aimed at becoming an integral and effective component of healthcare services standardization to support CQI in services and increase patient satisfaction (Ellis 2006; Kay 2007). The various experiences of benchmarking applications in the healthcare sector described later in this article reflect the diversity of benchmarking practices.