It's one list that every hospital wishes it were on.
In January, a study by HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare research firm, listed the nation's 100 top performing hospitals.
Part of the reason that HCIA developed the list was to hold the facilities up as good examples. The firm suggested that all U.S. hospitals could save as much as $28 billion per year in expenses by emulating these facilities. The study also reported that if hospitals could perform at the level of the top 100 hospitals, total billing charges nationwide could be cut by $40 billion annually, and hospitals could reduce their mortality and morbidity rates by 12% and 13%, respectively (Jan. 17, p. 8).
Not surprisingly, the news was a public relations bonanza for the 100 hospitals listed in the report. Many took advantage of HCIA's high ranking by congratulating themselves and their employees for making the list.
After receiving news of their accomplishment, dozens of hospitals issued press releases, had press conferences and threw parties for employees. Others took it one step further, using the study's results to launch local advertising campaigns in their markets.
For example, after finding its name listed alongside longtime neighbor The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the study, Greater Baltimore Medical Center ran a full-page ad in the Baltimore Sun to tell readers about the study's results. The ad mentions GBMC and Johns Hopkins as the only hospitals in Maryland to rank among the top 100 in the study, said David L. Brond, GBMC's assistant vice president of marketing and planning.
Mentioning GBMC in the same breath as Johns Hopkins raises the hospital's image among local residents and, more importantly, among local managed-care contractors, he said.
Using the ad to position the hospital in the same league as Johns Hopkins "lets the community know that we're doing something great," Mr. Brond said. "But it's more than just a tag line. The study also puts us in a better position to talk to (managed-care) providers about our hospital's overall performance."
Christ Hospital in Cincinnati took a similar route, running ads in the Cincinnati Inquirer to announce that it was one of only two facilities in the city to make the list, said Jack Cook, its president and chief executive officer. The other Cincinnati hospital that was honored was University of Cincinnati Hospital.
"This kind of came as a surprise to us," he said. "Whether it will ever bring us any business, who knows." Mr. Cook added that the hospital currently has no plans to use the study as a bargaining tool for upcoming negotiations.
Hospitals also used other means to get the word out in their market areas. For example, St. John's Regional Health Center in Wichita, Kan., and Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City conducted news conferences and distributed T-shirts to their employees to show their appreciation.
However, despite the informality of these two hospitals' responses, their executives said they want consumers, insurers and physicians to consider the study's findings very seriously.
"The public generally has to choose healthcare providers from a list provided by their insurance companies," said Steve Mattachione, Mercy Health Center's chief financial officer. "This top 100 list says to consumers that a professionally qualified firm has pinpointed the best hospitals in the country based on quality and costs-and Mercy Health Center is one of them."