The annual HCIA study of top-performing hospitals expanded this year to include 105 additional facilities selected by region to isolate and compare geographic variances.
In each of the nine U.S. Census Bureau regions, the study evaluated hospitals' performance by the same measures used to select the nation's top 100 hospitals. After excluding facilities named to the national list, HCIA took the best of the rest and aggregated them in each region to arrive at regional benchmarks.
The study named 12 facilities in eight regions, three each from four facility categories: hospitals with fewer than 100 beds, hospitals of 100 to 249 beds, nonteaching hospitals of 250 or more beds and minor teaching hospitals. New England was left with nine facilities, because there weren't enough large nonteaching hospitals to choose from, says Jean Chenoweth, HCIA vice president.
Major teaching hospitals also were excluded from consideration because they were few and far between in some regions, Chenoweth says. Analysts didn't want any facilities to make the list just by being in a region without a representative number of similar hospitals, she says.
The regional benchmarks painted different pictures of performance:
* The South Atlantic region had the lowest mortality rate and second- lowest complications rate, while posting the highest average occupancy rate and third-highest cash-flow margin. But expenses were also third-highest.
* The Mountain region had the lowest length of stay and highest asset turnover, marks of effective management. It also had the highest complications rate and lowest cash-flow margin.
* The West South Central region had the highest cash-flow margin and second-lowest expense per discharge, along with the second-lowest complications rate.
A chart of constituent states and benchmark hospitals in each region is posted on the World Wide Web at www.100tophospitals.com.