How it Breaks New Ground
This benchmark is different from others. The three directors of the Primary Care Foundation are steeped in out of hours service provision and commissioning so that we were able to develop a data extract that ensures that comparison of performance is based on a sample, typically of many thousands of cases. This allows us to compare performance and productivity for each hour of the day and to not just highlight the differences between services but explain some of the reasons why. Great care has been taken to ensure that costs are genuinely comparable, whether the provider is an independent organisation with an arms length contract or part of the PCT. We have also developed a questionnaire that for the first time allows comparison across services of how patients experience the care they received. The benchmark has rapidly been accepted as providing an authoritative comparison and has already been adopted by more than two thirds of PCTs in England.
The benchmark is much more than just a six monthly report. There is a strong emphasis on shared learning and development, with a series of workshops after each round of the benchmark, as well as local support at meetings or through conferences calls, as well as a ‘matching service’ to identify members who may be doing better on a particular measure and facilitate direct sharing of information and ideas.
It combines rigorous objectivity, with all services being measured in a directly comparable way, with a personal service that understands and takes account of the unique nature of each service.
In essence, it offers the currency for world class commissioning; providing information that enables meaningful comparisons and drives up the quality of care.