NURS 6211:Week 9: Expense Forecasting and Benchmarking


Think about your own life and how you make decisions on where to go for your next vacation. First you have to consider the level of funds you can have available for the trip. Will you use savings? Credit cards? Based on that number, you can begin to narrow down possible choices. Once you decide a location, you must plan for your spending priorities. Do you want to stay in a nicer hotel and cut down on your food budget? Is there a certain museum or art gallery you must have on your itinerary? What if you suddenly receive a phone call from a good friend inviting you to come to his wedding? How would this impact what funds you might have available for your future travel plans?

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The ability to make and use financial forecasts also holds true for running a health care organization. Expense forecasting is a technique that allows you to predict where you, as an organization, are going financially—and thus be better prepared to meet challenges and take advantage of opportunities that might arise. Tools are available to develop expense forecasting for short- and long-term financial needs.

This week, you will also examine the value of comparing your organization to other similar organizations. Also known as benchmarking, this allows you to evaluate how well you are performing in key indicators. There are, however, certain risks involved especially if you compare your organization to another that is not actually comparable.

As you focus on benchmarking, you will consider how to select organizations that are comparable to your own and what measures to use for comparison. You will also be introduced to process analysis and you will examine the three main types: process flow analysis, value stream mapping, and brown paper analysis.

This week, you explore the development and use of expense forecasting and benchmarking as a financial decision making tool for health care professionals.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Apply expense forecast to budget recommendations
  • Analyze the impact of expense forecasts on decision making
  • Apply benchmarking to organizations
  • Analyze benefits and risks of benchmarking

Learning Resources

Note: To access this Week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Baker, J. J., Baker, R. W., & Dworkin, N. R.  (2018). Health care finance: Basic tools for nonfinancial managers (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

  • Chapter 14, “Trend Analysis, Common Sizing, and Forecasted Data” (pp. 149-160)The focus of this chapter is the use of trend analysis and forecasting to develop future budgets and make financial decisions about capital purchases, programs, and personnel.
  • Chapter 15, “Using Comparative Data” (pp. 161-173)In this chapter, you are introduced to the criteria for identifying other health care organizations that are comparable to your own. Data from these organizations can then be used to evaluate your own organizational performance.
  • Chapter 19, “Estimates, Benchmarking, and Other Measurement Tools” (pp. 223-231)In this chapter, you continue exploring the concept of financial benchmarking. The chapter focuses on the importance of benchmarking for identifying performance gaps.

Zelman, W., McCue, M., & Glick, N. (2009). Financial management of health care organizations: An introduction to fundamental tools, concepts, and applications (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass.


  • Chapter 5, “Working Capital Management” (pp. 187–231)This chapter examines the concept of working capital. The authors explore the specifics of current assets and the management of the working capital cycle.
  • Chapter 11, “Responsibility Accounting” (pp. 468–497)Review: This chapter explores the trend toward the decentralization of health care organizations and the challenges this presents. This chapter also describes responsibility centers, or organizational units intended to achieve specific tasks.

Mulva, S., & Dai, J. (2009) Health care facility benchmarking. HERD, 3(1), 28–37.

This article describes a national health care facility’s benchmarking program. It is designed to compare measures of capital project performance.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2013). Measuring and benchmarking clinical performance. Retrieved from

Ettorchi-Tardy, A., Levif, M., & Michel, P. (2012). Benchmarking: A Method for Continuous Quality Improvement in Health. Healthcare Policy, e101-e119. Retrieved from

Document: Week 10 Application Assignment Template (Excell Spreadsheet)

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012). Expense forecasting. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

In this video, Dr. William Ward discusses expense forecasting and demonstrates how to perform trend analysis, staff forecasting, comparative data analysis, and capacity forecasting.

In order to be competitive in health care markets, organizations must ensure that the services they provide are consistent in pricing and quality with other comparable organizations. In this Discussion, you will examine how the process of benchmarking, or comparing organizations, is important in financial decision making.

To prepare:

  • Review the information on benchmarking found in this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Search the Walden Library or other reliable resources on the Internet and locate a journal article discussing how a health care organization has used the principle of benchmarking.
  • How could the concept of benchmarking be used in your own organization (or one with which you are familiar), regardless of size?
  • Consider how benchmarking could be useful to you in decision making.
  • Analyze the potential risks of making a faulty comparison.

By Day 3

Post a summary of the article you found (including the APA reference) and explain how it informed your understanding of benchmarking. Discuss how benchmarking could be used for financial decision making in your own organization (or one with which you are familiar). Also analyze the potential risks of making comparisons with an organization that is not a credible match with your own.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

By Day 6

Respond to at least two of your colleagues on two different days. Comment on a colleague with different options than your own. Describe what you like about their options and if you agree with their rankings. Justify your answers.

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