Thomson Reuters: Tanner Health System one of Top 15 Health Systems in Nation, Top in Georgia
Posted Date: 1/17/2012
Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, has named Tanner Health System one of the 15 Top Health Systems in the nation.
Tanner was listed among small health systems, but was the only health system in Georgia on the list in any category – small, medium or large. Researchers from Thomson Reuters analyzed the clinical quality and efficiency of more than 300 health systems from across the country to identify the top 15.
This is Thomson Reuters’ fourth annual list of the nation’s top health systems and the first year they’ve divided the list into the three categories based on size.
“That this list reflects entire health systems – and not individual hospitals – is very telling,” said Howard. “There is a lot of consolidation taking place in the healthcare industry right now. Independent hospitals are being acquired and assimilated into larger health systems. Just in our region, Newnan Hospital has become part of Piedmont Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Hospital is now part of Emory Healthcare.”
Those health systems share staff, training and policies, Howard explained, so examining the performance of a whole health system versus that of a single hospital can provide a more comprehensive sense of the level of care a patient can expect to receive.
“And at Tanner, through the hard work of a great many people, the care you can expect to receive is among the best in Georgia or the entire nation,” Howard said. “We’ve made a commitment that we will be in the top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation in a number of established benchmarks for care. Our patients can be confident that they’re going to receive excellent care, and be treated well, while at Tanner.”
Tanner Health System includes three hospitals – Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton, Tanner Medical Center/Villa Rica and Higgins General Hospital in Bremen – as well as the inpatient behavioral health facility Willowbrooke at Tanner in Villa Rica.
Thomson Reuters’ analysis determined that the 15 Top Health Systems lead in all study comparisons, including higher survival rates, reduced patient complications, better long-term outcomes for patients, improved adherence to accepted care protocols and patient-safety standards, shorter hospital stays and higher patient satisfaction scores.
All U.S. health systems with two or more short-term, general, non-federal hospitals; cardiac and orthopedic hospitals; and critical access hospitals were assessed in the study. Researchers looked at metrics that gauge clinical quality and efficiency, including health systems’ mortality rates, 30-day readmission rates, adherence to clinical standards of care (evidence-based core measures published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient survey scores.
“Since all hospitals that treat Medicare patients are included in public federal data files, there was no application process,” said William Waters IV, MD, chief medical officer at Tanner Health System. “Rather, Thomson Reuters found us based purely on our quality of care. We’ve made quality a key focus of our entire organization, and that commitment is paying dividends for our patients. We are still moving the whole health system forward in quality.”
Dr. Waters said that Tanner has oriented its staff to focus on patient safety and a better care experience. The health system employs a team of hospitalists – physicians who provide care only in the hospital, and who do not see patients in a clinic setting – who work alongside other clinical staff to make sure patients receive the right care at the right time, leading to lower average lengths of stay. Case-management teams are used to provide patients with more personalized service, and Tanner Home Health continues to provide superior aftercare once patients leave the hospital, using telemedicine and more to reduce readmissions. Tanner also has a team of infection prevention specialists, led by a medical director of infection prevention who is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases, who identify and eliminate infection risks within the health system’s hospitals.
The Thomson Reuters study found that small health systems, like Tanner, had the shortest average lengths of stay, lowest readmission rates and highest HCAHPS patient satisfaction scores.
“There’s still an important role for community hospitals,” said Howard. “We have a tradition of neighbors caring for neighbors. Bigger is not always better.”
For almost 20 years, Thomson Reuters’ 100 Top Hospitals research has provided an objective, national, balanced scorecard displaying both performance and rate of improvement compared to similar organizations. The top health systems were announced in the Jan. 16 issue of Modern Healthcare magazine.
“This year, we are seeing stronger system-wide performance and increased rates of improvement – particularly among the 15 Top Health Systems award winners,” said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president for performance improvement and the 100 Top Hospitals program at Thomson Reuters. “Health system performance is beginning to reflect the aspiration to provide more consistent outcomes across communities served. Healthcare reform appears to have stimulated the increased rate of improvement at the system level.”