Joint Commission spotlights 620 top performing hospitals

By Kelsey Brimmer
11:02 AM
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The Joint Commission has named 620 hospitals that have achieved outstanding performance on 45 evidence-based care processes closely linked to positive patient outcomes, showing that hospitals as a whole continue to improve their quality of care, officials say.

The Joint Commission examined  the performances of more than 3,300 accredited U.S. hospitals.

The report, “Improving America’s Hospitals: The Joint Commission Annual Report on Quality and Safety 2012,” notes that the 620 hopistals recognized are leading the way nationally on evidence-based practices, such as those for heart attack, pneumonia, surgery, children’s asthma, inpatient psychiatric services, venous thromboembolism (VTE) and stroke. These hospitals performed the practices at least 95 percent of the time in 2011, which is a 50 percent increase from 2010.

Health information technology often underpins the quality measures.

The top performers on key quality measures represent approximately 18 percent of Joint Commission-accredited hospitals reporting core measure performance data. In addition, 244 of the hospitals named in the report appear on the list for the second year in a row.

During a news teleconference Sept. 19, Mark Chassin, the comission's president, said that overall, 88.8 percent of the 3,300 examined hospitals achieved a composite accountability measure performance of 90 percent in 2011, compared to 20.4 percent of hospitals in 2002, the year in which the report began tracking 15 of the practices. For the first time, measures in the inpatient psychiatric services, VTE care and stroke care measure sets were included in this calculation.

All measures tracked for at least two years showed improvement, but, "good performance in one area doesn’t necessarily correlate with performance in another area,” said Chassin. “The Joint Commission created this program to both recognize these hospitals and encourage all hospitals to achieve this high level of excellence.”

In addition to the 620 hospitals achieving the top performers status, another 583 hospitals (17 percent) fell slightly short by missing 95 percent performance on only one measure. To help these 583 hospitals potentially achieve the status next year, the commission is encouraging use of the Core Measure Solution Exchange that allows healthcare professionals from accredited organizations to freely exchange quality improvement practices.

Chassin added that composite scores climbed 23.8 percent for pneumonia care and 9.9 percent for heart attack care since 2002; 15.5 percent for surgical care since 2005; 14.9 percent for children’s asthma care since 2008; 6.8 percent for inpatient psychiatric services since 2009; and 7.2 percent for VTE and 2.2 percent for stroke care since 2010.

The report also notes that although hospitals achieved 90 percent or better performance on most individual processes of care measures, more improvement is needed. For example, the report stated that only 60.2 percent of eligible heart attack patients received fibrinolytic therapy within 30 minutes of arrival at the hospital.