Only five acute-care hospitals claim top rankings nationally for high quality, low cost and financial stability-the trifecta, if you will, of hospital performance.
Those hospitals are identified in an exhaustive new analysis of hospital performance. They happen to be major teaching facilities, but teaching status is no marker for achieving excellence in all three areas, noted the Center for Healthcare Industry Performance Studies, which just published its first report card on 3,009 acute-care hospitals.
That's particularly true in the area of quality. Despite academic medicine's superiority complex, CHIPS, a Columbus, Ohio-based healthcare data provider, found the quality of care at teaching hospitals was surpassed by their nonteaching brethren.
Although that might seem counterintuitive, other common perceptions about hospital quality also are likely to be rattled by some of the additional major findings highlighted in The 1999 Performance Review-A Guide to U.S. Hospitals. For example:
* When it comes to quality of care, investor-owned hospitals have an edge over government and voluntary not-for-profits.
* While higher managed-care penetration undermines hospitals' financial performance, it also results in lower mortality and lengths of stay.
* Although the Northeast's teaching mecca is considered a bastion of quality, the opposite is true. The Far West is the quality leader, as represented by the four top states for hospital quality: Arizona, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. The bottom four, from best to worst, were New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York and Hawaii.
"I think the thing that will tweak people's interest more than anything else is the quality findings," said CHIPS President William Cleverley. As the report explains, the surprising performance of investor-owned and nonteaching hospitals might be a quirk of the methodology used to measure patient severity. Or it might be that these hospitals have never received the credit due to them for providing better care.
In its 612-page tome, CHIPS separates hospitals into three major categories: major teaching, minor teaching and nonteaching. Within each category are lists of top performers based on measures of quality, cost and financial performance using data from a three-year period, from 1995 through 1997.