The World’s Best Hospitals – How To Be One

Lots of hospitals claim to have world-class facilities and boast of being the region’s best, but what really does it take to be one? The mere presence of a five-star hotel lobby with expensive chandeliers and smiling receptionists definitely is not one criteria. Lest we forget, people come to a hospital with a problem they want fixed; the rest are just superfluous and complementary.

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The lobby of Chiangmai Ram Hospital, Thailand.

The best medical centers for the most difficult patients - that’s how the US News & World Report decides which are the best hospitals in the US, for example. They have been publishing annual rankings of the best hospitals in the US since 1991. The latest list was released last week:

US News & World Report Top Hospitals Honor Roll 2013

1. Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland

2. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

3. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

4. Cleveland Clinic, Ohio

5. Ronald Reagan University of California–Los Angeles Medical Center

6. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois

7. New York–Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, New York City

8. University of California–San Francisco Medical Center

9. Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

10. UMPC-University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania

johns hopkins

Johns Hopkins Hospital,Baltimore,Maryland – rated top in the US despite its ordinary facade.

Its interesting to note from the above list that Johns Hopkins was displaced from its top spot only once – last year in 2012 – when it went to the current runner-up. All the top five have consistently retained their top five status.

The magazine awards points to hospitals based on the individual specialty rankings. In 12 of the 16 specialties, measurable performance in terms of quality of care, safety, and mortality accounts for two thirds of a hospital’s score. The institution’s reputation among specialists, ascertained by a survey, accounts for the remaining one third.

You can read more, including the best hospitals for each specialty here.

So what does it take to be a world-class hospital? Apart from good outcomes, the following are also important:

1. Innovation - A desire to practice in an environment that embraces evidence attracts nurses and other staff to these hospitals.

2. ‘Patient-first’ philosophy – a no-brainer really, but quite easily forgotten by hospitals who pay too much attention to the financial bottom-line. They often forget that its the patients (read ‘customers’) who are paying their salaries!

3. Collaboration – Teamwork creates better outcomes, and many of these  hospitals have embraced fostering greater collaboration between disciplines. Every discipline brings a special domain of practice, knowledge and skill to create a village of information.

4. Quality Improvement- Structured processes for clinical services allow  staff to define and sustain clinical practice standards and incorporate new findings into practice. Care processes and measures for success can be defined and measured via a balanced scorecard.

5. Quality Nursing Care – Patients come to the hospital expecting the best doctor and often, they will get one for their medical condition to be treated appropriately. What can make the difference is the nursing. When nurses add on compasssion on top of the usual nursing skills, they give that extra edge to that hospital’s reputation.

6. Positive Work Environment – Nurses form a key component in any hospital, and to retain and attract them, the hospital management has to create an environment where people will want to work in. In my experience, a good pay is important but this is not the be all and end all. Other factors come into play like professional satisfaction and empowerment.

7. Continuing Education – one of the factors enhancing point 6. We are looking not at just professional education, but also at  social skills like  complaints management.

8. Staff Engagement – When you engage people closest to the work , you  respect them.They want to know where the organization is going and what the driving value is, and you can demonstrate how their work contributes to that. That includes letting the staff know as and when new staff are brought in as part of succession planning.

In my years as a hospital manager, the above values keep on recurring time after time and quite often, many hospitals do not make it to the top quite simply because the above lessons are not assimilated. Let me reiterate, good clinical outcomes are a must.

 

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