December 15, 2000

VUH among best in nation

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Mike McDonald, Ph.D., looks at mice on a Rotarod, a device used to measure ataxia and motor coordination. (photo by Dana Johnson)

VUH among best in nation

The HCIA-Sachs Institute recently listed Vanderbilt University Hospital as one of the best in nation by the eighth annual 100 Top Hospitals Benchmarks for Success study.

The national study ranks hospitals for quality of patient care, efficiency of operations, and profitability. Vanderbilt is the only hospital in Nashville named to top 100. Three other hospitals in Tennessee were named to the list: Baptist Hospital of East Tennessee – Knoxville; Baptist Dekalb Hospital – Smithville; and Columbia Hendersonville Hospital – Hendersonville.

The study is based solely on objective, quantitative performance data that are consistent and complete across all U.S. hospitals, which were analyzed in groups based on size and teaching status.

The study found that the top 100 hospitals maintained significantly higher profitability than their peers, treated more difficult cases and achieved better overall outcomes. The study also noted that $12 billion would be saved nationally in health care costs if all hospitals performed at the level of the top hospitals.

“The staff and leadership at Vanderbilt Hospital are very pleased to receive this recognition. It is always gratifying to have your hard work acknowledged, and this objective, outside award is especially so,” said Norman Urmy, executive vice president for Clinical Affairs at Vanderbilt.

Benchmark hospitals had fewer complications and inpatient deaths than other hospitals. The ranked hospitals also exhibited more than three times the profitability of all other hospitals studied, despite an increasingly acute patient population and the use of more expensive services.

“This year’s study reflects the financial distress hospitals have encountered in the wake of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997,” said Jean Chenoweth, executive director of the HCIA-Sachs Institute. “Despite the difficulties facing them, the 100 top Benchmark hospitals have maintained profitability and top clinical performance. This year’s 100 top hospitals study truly highlights those institutions with superior management teams who can perform well under very adverse conditions while providing high quality care to their communities on a consistent basis.”

The study analyzes the nation’s hospitals using empirical performance data from the Medicare MedPAR aggregated claims database and other publicly available sources. This methodology ensures that the focus is on statistical rather than anecdotal evidence of top performance. The measures for the 2000 study stress quality of care, efficiency of operations and sustainability of overall performance, and are calculated for five classes of hospitals: major teaching with more than 400 beds – 15 hospitals; teaching with less than 400 beds – 25 hospitals; large community, 250+ beds – 20 hospitals; medium community, 100 to 250 beds – 20 hospitals; and small community, 25 to 99 beds – 20 hospitals.

Vanderbilt was the only hospital in the south to be included in the major teaching category. “We should all be proud of the fact that we are in this category,” said Dr. Harry Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

Seven overall measures were used to determine performance: risk-adjusted mortality index; risk-adjusted complications index; severity-adjusted average length of stay; expense per adjusted discharge; profitability; proportion of outpatient revenue; and productivity (total asset turnover ratio). All of the criteria were weighted equally in the evaluation process.

The HCIA-Sachs Institute is the research and education division of HCIA-Sachs. The Institute is dedicated to the improvement of the health care industry through improved information. The Institute produces 100 Top Hospitals and Clinical Research Program studies, and publishes white papers – authoritative research reports, often clinical or financial – that explore the impact of legislation, new technologies, and clinical breakthroughs on the health care industry.