Purpose – The paper seeks to suggest an application of the benchmarking technique on the content evaluation of the health district activity plans (HDAPs). Design/methodology/approach – A literature review on benchmarking leads to the definition of a benchmarking process, which is utilized to evaluate and compare the contents of the HDAPs. These documents link the planning activity of the health districts of a region to the objectives comprehensively established at higher levels. Consequently, to define a common level of comparison of the HDAPs, the contents of the texts are evaluated through an in‐depth study of the specific law prescriptions and the adoption of an hermeneutic point of view. The HDAPs collected among the health districts of a single Italian Region represent the empirical data set and their specific benchmarking involves the definition of benchmark scales and placement of “best practices”. Findings – Benchmarking can improve planning capabilities of the health districts pointing out their most positive differences. Its specific application on the HDAPs highlights its flexibility and usefulness; whilst at the same time, it opens new insights on the recent evolution of the health care systems towards accountability, cost consciousness and efficiency. Practical implications – The results of the benchmarking comparison will lead to the design of an empirical blueprint for framing health district planning data and improve the understanding of the region. Originality/value – The paper highlights the role of benchmarking both in providing a comprehensive lecture key of the reality of district planning and suggesting cues from the best practices observed.
Benchmarking: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 30, 2008
Keywords: Benchmarking; Corporate strategy; Health services sector; Public sector organizations; Italy
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