Through a focus on delivering the best clinical outcomes for patients, Intermountain Health Care has achieved drastic improvements in operations, cost-control opportunities and integration efforts at its 21 hospitals, according to a new ranking of the nation's integrated healthcare networks.
Intermountain, Salt Lake City, has ridden that formula for the second consecutive year to the top spot in the 2003 "IHN 100" ranking by Verispan, formerly SMG Marketing Group. The Chicago-based research firm has ranked healthcare networks for the past six years based on their financial and clinical performance and degree of integration. Verispan rates each system on several categories designed to measure success, including financial stability, integration, technology and hospital utilization.
"Intermountain has demonstrated that all entities work together as a system for the good of the whole," says Lisa Caine, Verispan's market segment manager for the rating system.
Intermountain edged out six-hospital system Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk, Va., for the second straight year as the 2,000-bed Utah system put an emphasis on integrating clinical data to make the quality of care within the network uniform. Intermountain has placed in the top two spots for four consecutive years, capturing the top spot in 2000 and 2002, and taking second place in 2001.
"As we have become more integrated, we have seen quality outcomes improve dramatically," says Intermountain Executive Vice President Greg Paulsen. "The key is to focus on outcomes. If you have a clinical purpose and mission purpose, you start to see synergies."
The focus on integration has resulted in clinical improvements such as getting more children vaccinated and enabling diabetics to better manage blood-sugar levels, Paulsen says.
The system earned high scores in several categories of the survey's methodology, including clinical integration, which accounts for 26% of the total score; integrated technology (15%); and financial stability (13%).
Intermountain and its peers in the top 10 have been capitalizing on past successes, with only two newcomers in the top 10 this year-ProMedica Health System, Toledo, Ohio, and Inova Health System, Falls Church, Va. The list of 100 includes 81 systems that repeated from the previous year.
The "IHN 100" systems boast better financial performances and stronger clinical results than the other 472 regional integrated networks that were part of the survey. For example, their average lengths of stay are shorter, 5.1 days vs. 5.2 days, and the average profit margin is 4.6% compared with 3.2% for the other systems. The top 100 also have an average of 7.2 hospitals and 4,745 physicians compared with 5.7 hospitals and 1,402 physicians for the other systems.
For the ranking of Verispan's "IHN 100" and the top 10 networks ranked by region, visit modernhealthcare.com.