Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Catholic-Owned Health Care Systems Earn High Marks

I have repeatedly said since becoming the team leader for CHRISTUS Health that I feel this Catholic, faith-based health care system embodies my personal commitments to treating everyone who needs us with high quality, low cost health care in an accessible manner. Although I have worked in three other systems where I believe people were comfortable treating everyone who presented themselves, the well-documented principles in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) and the resulting policies and procedures guarantee on a consistent basis that everyone will be treated equally and with dignity regardless of their ability to pay, their immigration documentation, the color of their skin, or their religious tradition.

To me, this is an integral part of excellent health care and energizes CHRISTUS’ Journey to Excellence. Embracing the ERDs is a strong, visible demonstration, assuring that the care rendered in connection with the CHRISTUS name will be equal for all and of the highest standard possible as we continue our Journey to Excellence.

To that end, I wanted to share with you a performance study of measures of quality, clinical efficiency and perception of care conducted by Thomson Reuters, one of the nation’s most well-known and highly-regarded providers of information and decision support tools. This study found that Catholic-owned health care systems as a group appear to have a significant head start on other ownership categories such as “other church” systems, secular not-for-profit systems and investor-owned systems.

The results of the study were published in the Aug. 9, 2010 edition of Modern Healthcare, and suggest that leadership at health systems owned by the Catholic Church may be the most active in setting and monitoring achievement of quality goals, as well as aligning the management of hospitals within a system in achieving what they see as a mission.

In addition, a changing role for health system governance and leadership is being seen, with leaders taking responsibility for executing well on clinical performance as well as the purely business and economic reasons that originally drove consolidation into systems. In the clinical and service quality areas, Catholic systems appear to be leading within an industry that is in transition, the Modern Healthcare article reports. And while the Catholic-owned systems tend to lead in this transition, the remainder of the industry is shifting, but not as rapidly.

In addition to using federally reported core quality measures, Thomson Reuters ranks hospital systems in its studies according to inpatient mortality and complications, an inpatient safety index, 30-day mortality and readmissions, average length of stay and patient perception of care. For the study of systems by ownership, a composite score across all the measures was computed for each system, and all 255 of those systems ranked in the report were stratified by ownership as defined by the American Hospital Association (AHA).

The mean performance rank for each category – lower is better – showed the 36 Catholic systems in front with an average rank of 84. Eleven “other church” systems combined for an average rank of 121, and the 176 secular not-for-profit systems combined for a rank of 129. The 26 identified investor-owned systems combined for a rank of 182. Six systems in the study had missing ownership information in the AHA reference guide.

This study seems to support my assertion that our Catholic culture and heritage ensure that the care rendered at CHRISTUS facilities is equal for all and of the highest standard possible.

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