Landing a spot among the nations most-integrated health networks got a little harder for this years ranking.
The healthcare industrys strong finances, a growing move toward disease management and investment in information technology buoyed scores across the boardand boosted some organizations significantlyin an annual ranking of healthcares most efficient, best-performing networks by Yardley, Pa.-based Verispan, a healthcare data and consulting firm.
The ranking, now in its 10th year, grades networks on integration using a 100-point scale based on health systems operations, clinical quality, efficiency and breadth of services. This years crowded field of strong contenders raised the bar for those hoping to land among the top 100, and left less room between top-scoring systems.
It got more competitive, says Subhash Seelam, senior market manager for acute-care and integrated healthcare networks for Verispan, which is healthy competition.
This years No. 1 organizationSt. Johns Health System, Springfield, Mo., a six-hospital subsidiary of 17-hospital Sisters of Mercy Health System, Chesterfield, Mo.skyrocketed from the 15th spot a year earlier. However, less than two points separated St. Johns score, 93.98, and those of its two closest competitors.
No. 2, perennial high-scorer Intermountain Healthcare, finished with a 93.38 score. The Salt Lake City-based, 18-hospital system held its 2006 ranking and score, with a slight dip from 2006s 93.7 tally.
This years No. 3-ranked systemseven-hospital ProMedica Health System, Toledo, Ohioslipped from first in the 2006 rankings, scoring 92.71, or nearly two full points down from last year.
Kim Day, St. Johns president and chief executive officer, says the systems score reflects results from its increasingly coordinated efforts to improve quality, safety and patient satisfaction. Its possible only in an integrated model, which allows a system to leverage its size and align incentives among physicians and management, Day says.
The cutoff score for ranking among the top 100 networks climbed to 75.3 points from 71 points last year, Seelam says, squeezing some systems out of the upper tier.
Others saw improved scores, but their rankings slipped. Providence Health System-Oregon, based in Portland, dropped to sixth from the No. 4 spot in 2006, despite a three-point gain in its overall score. Another top 10 finisher, six-hospital Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk, Va., gained about 2.5 points but fell two spots to rank fifth this year. And 12-hospital University of Pittsburgh Medical Center dropped 10 spots in ranklanding at No. 22 in 2007even though its score was more than a full point higher this year: 85.54 vs. 84.49 in 2006.
Scores rose as a growing number of top 100 networks further centralized budgets, integrated technology and coordinated care such as disease management, Seelam says. Verispan surveyed 587 networks and received complete responses from roughly 200 eligible systems. Networks surveyed are those whose operations are jointly marketed and operated, either by common ownership or contractual agreement, Seelam says.
This years report includes 18 new networks among the top 100. More returning systems saw scores rise than fall (43 vs. 34). The tighter competition reflects improved integration overall, Seelam says. The mean score rose to 81.65 in 2007 from 79.2 in 2006, Verispans data show.
The rankings score systems based on integration of operations, financial performance and the compositionor scopeof services. The ratings use a total of 33 subcategories.
Some 40% of networks integration score rides on greater integration via technology. Roughly one-third of the 2007 top 100 finishers scored higher on technology integration than they did a year earlier. Among this years top 100 finishers, 76% used electronic medical records compared with 72% a year earlier, Seelam says.