News Catholic Hospitals Provide Best Care, According to Rankings

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AUSTIN, TX - (August 20, 2010) - A new study by Thomson Reuters reveals that Catholic health systems have the highest quality outcomes. Ascension Health, of which the Seton Family of Hospitals is a member, was recognized for its dedicated focus on clinical excellence (Ascension Health is the largest Catholic and largest nonprofit health care system in the United States).

Catholic hospitals provide best care, according to rankings
08/11/2010
Published by The Advisory Board Company (Health Care Advisory Board)

Catholic and other church-owned health systems tended to have the highest quality outcomes and deliver "significantly better, more efficient care" than for-profit health systems, according to a study from Thomson Reuters.

To determine how ownership type influences hospital performance, Thomson Reuters researchers compared 255 health systems evaluated in its "100 Top Hospitals: Health System Benchmarks" study across eight quality and efficiency metrics: mortality, adverse events, patient safety, length of stay, 30-day mortality rate, 30-day readmission rate, adherence to clinical standards of care and patient survey scores. In addition, the researchers categorized hospitals as one of four ownership types-Catholic, other church-owned, investor-owned and not-for-profit-using the American Hospital Association's ownership classifications.

Among the four groups, Catholic and other church-owned health systems ranked first and second, respectively, for providing high quality performance and efficiency to communities, while investor-owned systems demonstrated the lowest quality performance across the four ownership groups. Catholic health systems also were "significantly" more likely to provide higher quality performance to communities than secular not-for-profit health systems.

According to Thomson Reuters, the results suggest a "changing role" for health system governance and leadership and demonstrate that the leadership teams of health systems owned by churches may be "the most active in aligning quality goals and monitoring achievement" across member hospitals. Meanwhile, the leadership teams of investor-owned systems "may be adopting a responsibility more slowly," Thomson Reuters' senior vice president for performance improvement explains.

For example, Trinity Health-a Catholic health system in Novi, Mich.-aims to recruit senior executives that "are committed for the long term to improvements in quality." Demonstrating this commitment, Trinity Health's president and CEO says the system gained support from its board to launch a $400 million IT initiative in 2000 that has improved quality across the network. Meanwhile, Ascension Health-another Catholic health system in St. Louis, Mo.-maintains a dedicated focus on "clinical excellence" by setting "concrete goals" for all member hospitals, which has produced "phenomenal" care improvements, Modern Healthcare reports.

Although for-profit health systems by definition lack a religious-driven mission, Modern Healthcare stresses that these institutions "can still comply with core quality measures religiously." Prime Healthcare Services in Victorville, Calif., for example, is a for-profit system that has created a "profitable Medicare business" while producing superior clinical results (Thomson Reuters research brief, 8/9; Thomson Reuters release, 8/9; Morrissey, Modern Healthcare, 8/9 [subscription required]).

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