SIOUX FALLS — Avera Health was this week named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by IBM Watson HealthTM (NYSE: IBM). The study spotlights the best-performing health systems in the U.S., based on a balanced scorecard of publicly available clinical, operational and patient satisfaction metrics and data.

This year’s 15 Top Health Systems study evaluated 337 health systems and 2,961 member hospitals to identify the 15 U.S. health systems with the highest overall achievement on a balanced scorecard. The scorecard is based on the 100 Top Hospitals® national balanced scorecard methodologies and focuses on five performance domains: inpatient outcomes, process of care, extended outcomes, efficiency, and patient experience. This is the first time Avera Health has been recognized with this honor.

“Our quality teams are so deserving to have their work acknowledged and be awarded this honor,” said Bob Sutton, Avera Health President and CEO. “Quality is a priority for every department and employee. We have a highly organized system quality plan that aligns with the National Quality Strategy and permeates all levels of our health system. Our largest and smallest facilities embrace the same strategies for ensuring quality, yet each have their own quality identity. This award reflects how Avera approaches care — with top quality in mind.”

The Avera Health system has over 18,000 employees and physicians, serving more than 300 locations and 100 communities in a five-state region.

Based on extrapolating the results of this year’s study, if all similarly-situated Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as those treated in the award-winning facilities:

• More than 60,000 additional lives could be saved;

• More than 26,000 additional patients could be complication-free;

• Healthcare-associated infections would be reduced by 10%; and

• Patients would spend 38 minutes less in hospital emergency rooms per visit.

“The multi-year trend toward increased healthcare consolidation has shined a spotlight on health system performance, illuminating both the challenges of coordinating care across multiple facilities and the opportunities that can come with scale,” said Ekta Punwani, 100 Top Hospitals® program leader at IBM Watson Health. “The institutions recognized in the IBM Watson Health 15 Top Health Systems study are providing a blueprint for how to improve quality, lower costs and achieve outstanding patient satisfaction on a consistent basis.”

Criteria for the award were based on Medicare quality data from 2016 and 2017, as well as infection data from 2018 on Hospital Compare. David Erickson, MD, Chief Medical and Innovation Officer, and Stacey Erickson, Vice President of Quality and Data Integration, explained how Avera has achieved success in quality practices. They shared that:

1) Clinical teams are engaged; quality is part of everyone’s job.

2) Physicians deeply understand quality and recognize that small changes can make a big difference.

3) Communication among teams encourages discussion about quality challenges and regulatory pressures.

Dr. Erickson shared that there have been several examples of how teams have made improvements. “We have seen notable successes in many areas including readmission reduction, harm prevention, antimicrobial stewardship and sepsis care,” he said. “These are examples of Avera’s commitment to being innovative and forward-thinking in our approach to improving quality. It’s a team sport and everyone plays a vital role.”

For more information, visit www.100tophospitals.com.

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