The Truth about "Best Practices"


By: Jeff Cowart, MAH

At a recent conference I attended two speakers proposed that the results of a survey they conducted represented “best practices” from the work of physician liaisons. In fact, it was just a survey – albeit interesting – of what this particular set of respondents were doing as part of their field work and how their activities had changed over previous surveys. The survey failed to qualify as best practices because the key question was not answered: “Did you achieve sustained growth through these practices.” After all, physician relationship field work is about growth results not just activity.

These days we hear a lot about the quest for best practices in all areas of healthcare. Folks who have done innovative and creative things frequently frame those activities as best practices. They are often interesting ideas. But, as consumers of the information we should always expect the answer to the question “Did it work?” before we accept the idea as a best practice.

Innovation and creativity, experimentation and entrepreneurship, change management and questioning established work habits, are all critical components of successfully meeting the new challenges of the disruptive health care environment. But, until an idea is followed by the statement, “And, it positively moved the needle against a baseline measurement,” it is just an idea awaiting best practices validation.

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