WVU Hospitals Named to Top Performance Hospitals List

National Ranking Maintained for Second Year

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Hospitals has been listed by a national health data firm as one of the Top 100 hospitals in the U.S. in performance improvement for the second consecutive year.

In a study released Monday (May 1) in Modern Healthcare magazine, the Solucient organization found that a select group of hospitals across the nation, including WVU Hospitals, have shown a clear ability to improve across their entire organization, resulting in better clinical outcomes and efficiency, increased financial strength, and growing patient volumes. Overall, they report, the hospital industry's overall ability to improve performance over time has been limited.

WVU Hospitals President Bruce McClymonds said everyone who works at the hospital contributes toward performance improvement. “Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to improve the quality of healthcare services delivered by WVU healthcare professionals every day,” he said in a message to the hospital staff and leadership Monday. “This award is reflective of our collective hard work on a whole variety of fronts.  The ultimate bottom line will be whether we can all be successful in creating a scope of services with exceptional clinical quality and access at WVU that will enable all West Virginians to stay in the state for care.  This award is simply recognition of the progress we are making in our pursuit of that objective.”

Hospital analysts consider performance improvement a key measure of the quality of service patients can expect when ill or injured.

"Five years of steady, well-aligned improvement means that these 100 Performance Improvement Leaders have enormously increased the value they provide to their communities," said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president, performance improvement & 100 Top programs, Center for Healthcare Improvement at Solucient.

The study found that the leading hospitals made the following gains between 2000 and 2004:

  • They have fewer than expected complications, deaths and adverse safety events despite starting five years ago with higher than expected incidence.
  • They improved financial stability going from being barely profitable to achieving a healthy positive profit margin of 5.8 percent.
  • They discharge patients two-thirds of a day earlier than five years ago.
  • They increased expenses by only 8 percent, while their peers' expenses increased 20 percent.
  • They grew their patient volume 5.3 percent, while their peers lost 1.5 percent of their patient volume.

Nationally, the majority of hospitals are not showing substantial improvement on the measures studied. During the study period, more than half of the hospitals studied have not been able to control expenses significantly and approximately one-third had increasing expenses. Overall, about 87 percent of all hospitals in the study showed no significant change in profitability. More than one third of the hospitals studied (35 percent) showed significant improvement in patient survival, however, only a small portion -- 11 percent -- were able to significantly improve patient complications, and even less -- 5 percent -- were able to make significant improvements in patient safety.

The study grouped hospitals by size, and 15 major teaching hospitals, including WVU Hospitals, made the Top 100. Among the others on the list were hospitals at Emory University, Penn State and the University of Kentucky; and Beth Israel and St. Lukes-Roosevelt hospitals in New York City.

Small (25-99 beds) and medium-sized (100-249 beds) hospitals have been the most successful at effecting organization-wide performance improvement, at least in the short-term. "In the years studied, small community hospitals and medium community hospitals showed the lowest increase in expenses, the greatest rise in profitability and the greatest gain in patient volume, in comparison to their non-winning peers," noted David Foster, Ph.D., chief scientist at Solucient.

On the other hand, major teaching and teaching hospitals have struggled the most to effect change. "These hospitals have faced an increasingly severe caseload, in addition to the reimbursement constraints, rising costs and staffing difficulties that all hospitals have endured since 2000," explained Foster. In these groups, both winners and non-winners increased expenses drastically though winners saw increases (about 10 percent) well below those of their peers (more than 20 percent).

Ginny Sexton, Solucient, (847) 424-4358

- WVU -

For more information:
Bill Case, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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