Traverse City Record-Eagle

July 28, 2013

Munson no longer 'Top 100'

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — As a change of pace, Munson Medical Center wasn’t included in the nation’s “100 Top Hospitals” this year, but it continues to be one of the country’s top performing hospitals.

“It’s just a fabulous organization that provides value to your community year after year. It really is remarkable.” said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president of Truven Health Analytics, which publishes the ranking. “It’s a very high performing organization, and the community is very lucky to have this caliber of hospital.”

Munson has been ranked a top 100 hospital every year since 2004 and 14 times in 20 years. Only two other hospitals in the country have been named as a “Top 100” hospital as many times, said Al Pilong, Munson Medical Center president.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal that an organization would be recognized so highly,” he said.

In this latest ranking, Truven examined the publicly available data — from Medicare patient billing, for example — of 2,922 hospitals. The study includes measures of 10 criteria, including patient mortality, medical complications, and patient safety. Three categories measured cost efficiency.

Truven picked winners from five different hospital categories based on how well they balance quality patient care with operational and financial performance. Munson has a better shot at getting into the top 100, because it’s a teaching hospital. In this past report, 25 out of 424 teaching hospitals were selected (5.9 percent). That’s in contrast to the category of medium community hospitals in which 20 out of 1,000 were chosen (2 percent) and small community hospitals with 20 winners out of 923 hospitals (2.2 percent).

This last analysis, using 2011 data, points to the need for Munson to take a closer look at length of patient stays, Pilong said.

“Given that we are a rural hospital, it becomes a challenge for us at times to manage patients who come from great distances — the transition from hospital to home or to a nursing home or rehab or wherever,” Pilong said.

“We’ve taken a conservative approach, erring on the side that patients are well taken care of and have a good transition plan, all the necessary pieces in place — discharge instructions, home care instructions, follow-up, transportation.”

As a result, Munson tends to keep patients longer, but doesn’t necessarily get paid for the time, which impacts the bottom line. The hospital will focus on greater efficiency without compromising patients’ well-being, he said.

“Patients often want to get home as well,” Pilong said. “They want don’t want to be in the hospital any longer than they need to be.”

Truven Health Analytics provides a range of services to most of the country’s hospitals. Munson Medical Center, for example, pays the company $123,000 a year for a subscription to their data service. This service is completely unrelated to the “100 Top Hospitals” ranking.

Still, Chenowith said she is often asked whether Truven can objectively assess hospitals that are also clients. She said the study design and transparency ensure complete objectivity.

“Number one, this study is done in the research division. Number two, we use only public data sources, “ she said.

Truven’s reports from the study are intended for use by hospitals, not consumers, she said.

“We publish the names of the winners primarily so non-winners can call them and say, “What are you doing?’”