Feb 11, 2020



Strategies that Sustain Quality from America’s Best Hospitals

When it comes to measuring hospital quality, one metric reigns supreme: clinical outcomes. Top-performing hospitals have built cultures and found strategies that enable them to deliver superior clinical outcomes for multiple conditions and procedures, year after year. Who are they?

Each year, Healthgrades reviews the clinical performance of nearly 4,500 hospitals across the country and identifies those hospitals in the top 1, 2 and 5 percent in the nation. Released on February 11th, the 2020 list of Healthgrades America’s Best Hospitals™ includes America’s 50, 100, and 250 best performers based on clinical quality outcomes.

The list recognizes hospitals that consistently provide exceptional comprehensive care for the most common inpatient procedures and conditions. Hospitals that receive this award also outperform their peers in treating a core group of conditions* that account for, on average, more than 75% of in-hospital mortalities in areas evaluated by Healthgrades where mortality is the outcome of concern. In sum, patients are more likely to have a successful treatment without major complications — and less chance of dying — at one of America’s Best Hospitals.

Clinical excellence means daily execution

How do America’s Best Hospitals manage to achieve and sustain clinical excellence? Here are some of the most-cited strategies by organizations that make the list.

Patient centeredness. Easier said than done, being truly patient-centered requires shifting paradigms to arrange everything around patients and their outcomes. America’s Best Hospitals engage patients and their families by listening to them during and after the hospital stay so their needs and concerns remain central. When identifying what to measure, they focus on what will make the most difference to the patient’s clinical outcomes.

Healthgrades doesn’t just award hospitals; we help them improve performance. Engage a consultant from our team of quality improvement experts, including clinicians.

Ambitious goals. Athletes know this — to achieve consistently great outcomes you have to set goals previously considered impossible and then meet them. America’s Best Hospitals focus on the highest impact goals, innovate to meet those goals, and measure the impact of changes. They look at best practices from other industries and recognize that if other high-reliability enterprises can strive for zero defects, they can, too.

Universal accountability. To aim for excellence requires everyone’s commitment. In a culture focused on quality, every physician, clinician, and employee — no matter what their position — is an owner in the quest for continuous improvement. America’s Best Hospitals are committed to transparent reporting and identifying what’s working and what can be better.

Courage to look. Also easier said than done, looking at what isn’t working instead of looking away takes courage. No matter how many tools are in use or how many data points collected, people and processes cannot improve unless everyone is willing to speak up. Employees need to know they won’t be penalized for bringing forth quality and safety issues. America’s Best Hospitals are honest about their flaws and compare themselves to the best. They identify gaps and strive to close them.

Sustainable growth

Striving for clinical excellence can result in an array of benefits. By reducing errors you can avoid the cost of complications, including wasted resources. You’ll also attract talent, boost employee retention, and build your reputation in the industry and community. Patients want to be treated at America’s Best Hospitals.

If there’s any lingering doubt, aiming for quality care directly supports the transition from volume to value. Top hospitals demonstrate lower risk for insurers and receive related incentives. They are first to realize that pursuing value can lead to sustainable growth.

These quality improvement themes may be familiar, but system-wide daily execution separates the best from the rest. For them, quality is the business of healthcare.

View the full list of America’s Best Hospitals by state, or for more statistics, see the infographic.

* Heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, and stroke

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