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St. Luke's Patients Get the Five-Star Treatment

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
October 22, 2013

Today, Healthgrades released the American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Healthgrades Report to the Nation, which evaluates hospital performance at more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide for 31 of the most common inpatient procedures and conditions.

I’ve asked Dr. Bart Hill, St. Luke’s chief quality officer, to share what the ratings mean. His thoughts follow. 

For the 2014 season, St. Luke’s earned more than 20 five-star ratings for overall cardiac care; treatment of heart attack and heart failure; treatment of stroke and sepsis; treatment of pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hip and knee replacement; and valve, carotid, and peripheral vascular bypass surgery care in the Treasure Valley. Our performance has placed Treasure Valley among the best hospitals in the United States for clinical outcomes for conditions including cardiac care, critical care, joint replacement, and vascular surgery for several consecutive years.

St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center received five-star ratings for sepsis, pulmonary embolism, carotid surgery, and stroke care.

Why does it matter how we are rated by Healthgrades?

The ratings are an external measure of our performance relative to every organization across the country, and are an opportunity to identify our strengths and opportunities. The ratings help us assess our performance, celebrate our strengths, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Healthgrades is a company that provides an external measure of all hospitals’ performance, based upon the Medicare population with various conditions relative to mortality and complications during the years between 2010 and 2012. The comparison of similar patients across so many organizations is what makes such reports valuable as a progress check towards our vision of being a national leader in quality and safety. 

Approximately 70 percent of all hospitals will receive a three-star rating, or average performance, with approximately 15 percent of hospitals receiving either a one- or a five-star rating. 

St. Luke’s hospitals in Treasure Valley and Magic Valley not only perform at a five-star level, they also outperform other hospitals in the nation in the ranked condition, and as a result have been recognized with the 2014 Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Award in multiple categories.

According to the 2014 Healthgrades report, there is a disparity in hospital performance for specific conditions and procedures and the impact that this variation may have on health outcomes.

For example, from 2010-2012, if all hospitals as a group performed similarly to hospitals receiving five stars as a group, on average 234,252 lives could potentially have been saved, and 157,418 complications could potentially have been avoided.   

Improvement is a never-ending journey, and the Healthgrades information provides clarity about where our performance can be improved. When improvement is made, our patients and communities will experience even better outcomes, and that is what matters.

We have seen our performance improve over time, as indicated by the progression from an average star rating of 3.28 to 4.00 over the last four years in the Treasure Valley. This continuous improvement over time is one of the things that I am most proud of.

We also have maintained our excellence as shown by being ranked among the top 5 percent of organizations for joint replacement for four consecutive years, for critical care for two consecutive years, and by being ranked among the top 5 percent of hospitals for vascular surgery for three consecutive years. 

This improvement and maintenance of excellence validates the hard work of so many of our staff members, physicians, volunteers, and leaders who have committed themselves to providing the very best care for St. Luke’s patients.

It shows that we can achieve truly national leading performance. In a number of areas, we are showing that these improvements are also sustainable over time. It is external validation that our commitment and hard work are making a difference in better care, a superior patient experience, and lower costs of care.

St. Luke’s outstanding ratings for stroke and sepsis outcomes in both Magic Valley and Treasure Valley show the value of following consistent care that is defined as the best quality care by evidence. This single standard of care for these conditions is provided at all St. Luke’s sites and reflects our belief in standardized care . 

As independent sources of information, entities such as Healthgrades provide validation that we are making progress towards our vision. They provide an opportunity to measure our performance against other organizations and against ourselves over time. Most importantly, they validate that we are making a difference in the lives of our patients. 

Congratulations to everyone throughout St. Luke's Health System. We appreciate our board members, who push us to be the best we can be. We value all of our staff, because it takes everyone, from maintenance, to accounting and dieticians, to pharmacists, to laboratory technicians, to radiology technicians, to recruiters, to nurses and unit secretaries, to truly achieve excellence.

And a special thank you to our physicians and providers, who are dedicated to delivering the highest possible quality of care to their patients and who are leading the way with implementing evidence-based medicine and best practices to reduce mortality and complication rates.

And finally, a thank you to our volunteers, who help us out in so many ways so that our staff can do what they do best: Care for patients. Without all of you, we would not be the leader in quality health care that we are.

Please join me in celebrating these amazing successes and acknowledging our achievements, even as we keep in mind that we can become even better. I am so very proud of each and every member of the St. Luke’s team, and privileged to be a part of these accomplishments!

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.

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