Hospital ranked among top 10 academic medical centers in U.S.

By Staff

The University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) has been cited as one of the top 10 academic medical centers in the country based on quality, patient safety and patient satisfaction.

The top 10 showing comes after several years of deliberate focus on clinical improvements with the goal of being one of the top 10 academic medical centers in the country by 2020. UCH, the 28th best-performing academic hospital in 2009, improved to the eighth-highest-scoring hospital in the 2010 Quality and Accountability Performance Scorecard, released by the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC).

Academic hospitals, which are part of larger university research and health sciences schools, tend to be the first in their home areas to bring tested new treatments to the bedside, typically have the broadest array of specialists and sub-specialists, and specialize in complex care not always available at community hospitals.

Being ranked so high among such elite company "means a great deal to us," said Bruce Schroffel, president and CEO of University of Colorado Hospital. "It means we are doing a better job for our patients and their safety is our highest priority."

"Life is a process, not a destination," added Steven Ringel, M.D., UCH's vice president of clinical excellence and patient safety. "Being top 10 is not just a destination. It is an indication of what we're capable of."

Ringel, Sue West, RN, director of clinical excellence and patient safety, and their team have led UCH's clinical improvement efforts since 2007. West was quick to credit the entire hospital for the success.

"Our staff has put blood, sweat and tears into our efforts to improve," she said. "The team did a great job of identifying what needed to be done and the various departments did a great job implementing the improvements."

The consortium, which bases its rankings on raw clinical and operational performance data, also recognized UCH as a "rising star" among hospitals for overall score improvement. The score is a composite of performance in patient safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity and patient centeredness.

UHC rankings differ from other, more highly recognizable attempts to identify "best" or "top" hospitals. Where rankings like US News & World Report and Healthgrades focus exclusively on Medicare patients and include subjective estimates of a specialty's "reputation," the consortium looks at statistical outcomes for all patient populations and does not use subjective opinions.

US News, however, also ranked four University of Colorado Hospital specialties – cancer, pulmonology, kidney diseases and rehabilitation – as among the best in the nation in its latest rankings, released in July.

The consortium cited University of Colorado Hospital at its 10th annual Quality and Safety Fall Forum meeting in San Diego, where more than 800 attendees from academic medical centers across the country gathered last month