Building and maintaining strong service lines is central to growth and can require significant investment. And, with today’s economic climate magnifying risk, strategically defining your investments within a service line could not be more important.

Your physician leaders will have great insights into the investments that will maximize value, and their input is certainly crucial. However, national benchmarking will also provide valuable insights and will help to define
and prioritize opportunities. Through benchmarking, you’ll gain a better understanding of:

•  Physician capabilities that differentiate leading centers,

•  Trends in treatment modalities and service delivery

•  Emerging technologies

•  How your capabilities compare to those of institutions with    recognized strength in those service lines

•  How your service line volumes, mix, and market share    compare to those of other institutions

•  How top programs are marketing themselves

HSG employs a three-step benchmarking process when working with clients to evaluate the potential of proposed new or the expansion of existing service lines.

Step One:

Benchmark Services, Facilities, Equipment and Physicians

The first step is identifying market  leaders, four or so top centers or programs around the country. Your physicians will be helpful with that process, as will national comparative databases and measures. For these centers, we define the array of services, facilities, and physician specialties/capabilities offered. Defining the program details generally requires online research, telephone interviews, review of cost report data, and other analysis.

Step Two:

Benchmark Service Volumes

We then define the MS-DRGs, Procedure Codes, and other relevant units for the service line. Using Medicare data files, we identify volumes among the benchmark and client programs, volumes in the associated SMAs, ALOS, cost/charge ratios, and other comparisons. This invariably provides useful information on the patient mix of centers of excellence and how the client hospital is different.

Step Three:

Program Gaps and Opportunities

Utilizing the information derived from steps one and two, we then contrast the client’s current program with those at the top providers and define existing gaps and opportunities. This analysis looks at program components, facilities and technology, medical staff capabilities, relative profitability, and market share/potential and provides a solid basis to develop an effective service line growth plan.

This process consistently provides significant value to our clients in expanding vision and opening new areas for discussion. The most significant discussions occur with physician leaders, both in the selection of benchmark programs and data elements for comparison, and sharing findings in follow-up discussions. This helps set the table for physician engagement in and support of the growth initiative.


David W. Miller

Founder, Board Member