Question: My CFO asked me to design a productivity benchmarking model. Can you provide any advice?

We are a 70-bed facility in Alabama, and we predominantly perform orthopedic surgeries. My goal is to come up with some kind of cost profile for our top 10 service lines, and to tie overall productivity to a benchmark that I can design for these service lines.

This is a sample HFMA Forum Ask the Expert question and answer. Click here for more information on Forum subscriptions.

Answer: At UMass Memorial Medical Center, we obtain comparative data for cost and quality measures from an alliance of the nation's academic medical centers. The alliance provides us with comparative benchmarking for length of stay (LOS), readmissions, and other quality indicators. We can also obtain quarterly management reports that provide snapshots of organizational performance on critical clinical, operational, and financial metrics. There are several other organizations that provide comparative benchmark services.

From an LOS perspective, I often start with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid's DRG data and compare the geometric mean LOS. It allows me to see the variances, and I can further drill down by attending and by surgeon and look at trends by quarter. Often the LOS drives the direct cost per case and, if there are statistically significant LOS variances, they will negatively impact the service line.

This question was answered by Rosemary Rotty FHFMA, director of financial planning, UMassMemorial Medical Center (UMMMC), Worcester, Mass., and a member of HFMA's Massachusetts-Rhode Island Chapter (

Share your views on this question or pose another question to our CFO Forum experts

Publication Date: Monday, October 22, 2012