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U of U Health Care Ranks No. 1 in Prestigious National Quality Study

Salt Lake City – University of Utah Health Care has achieved the No. 1 ranking in University HealthSystem Consortium’s 2010 Quality and Accountability Study. The annual study compares 98 of the nation’s top academic medical centers and ranks them based on core quality measures, patient safety indicators, mortality rates, re-admission rates, and patient satisfaction scores. 

“The Consortium’s quality ranking is one of the most rigorous and thorough rankings in the country,” said Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., University of Utah Health Care CEO and senior vice president for the University’s Health Sciences. “Academic medical centers care for the sickest patients in this country. To rank first in quality and accountability among this elite group is a tremendous honor and reflects the talent and commitment of our physicians and staff.”

University of Utah Health Care has had a steady rise in the Consortium’s annual assessment. Three years ago, it received a three-star ranking from the Consortium, ranking 50 out of 88 hospital systems. Last year, the University jumped 19 spots to the top of the three-star category, ranking 31 out of 93 hospitals. And, in this year’s survey, the University catapulted to a five-star ranking and the No. 1 position.

According to David Entwistle, CEO of the system’s hospitals and clinics, the rapid rise is due to focused efforts on quality measures known to have the greatest impact on patient outcomes. “This study confirms providing care that is evidence based and data driven leads to better patient outcomes.  Academic medical centers are known for this type of measureable quality care, and we’re pleased to be ranked number one among our national peer group,” he said.

David Bjorkman, dean of the University’s School of Medicine and executive medical director for the University of Utah Medical Group, cites the culture of collaboration that exists at University of Utah Health Care for much of the movement over the past three years. “This remarkable achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the focused, hard work of our quality specialists, physicians, nurses, management, and countless other staff members who care for patients every day,” he said.

While the Consortium shares the methodology used in the study, it does not publicly release data gathered from individual institutions. Instead, it uses the five-star system to rank each of its members. The top 10 centers in the study receive a five-star ranking, and the top five from that group are recognized with the Quality Leadership Award at the organization’s annual meeting. In addition to the University of Utah, the 2010 honorees include:                     

  • University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz.
  • Methodist Hospital of Indiana—A Clarian Health Partner in Indianapolis
  • Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Penn.
  • Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Mark Keroack, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and chief medical officer for University HealthSystem Consortium, developed the study and helps oversee data analysis each year. He says the Institute of Medicine’s six domains of care – safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and patient centeredness – are used as a guide in structuring the study.  

“All of this year’s top performers, including University of Utah Health Care, demonstrate a passion for improving patient care and operational effectiveness. On behalf of our organization, I extend our congratulations to all academic medical center leaders and staff who daily demonstrate a passion for improving patient care and operational effectiveness,” Keroack said.

The study has been conducted annually by UHC since 2005.

About University HealthSystem Consortium

University HealthSystem Consortium, based in Oak Brook, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, includes 107 AMCs (academic medical centers) and 241 of their affiliated hospitals in its membership, representing more than 90 percent of the nation’s nonprofit AMCs. The Consortium provides data products and services to support clinical, operational, financial, and supply chain improvement. The Consortium’s Patient Safety Net® serves as the patient safety system for the Consortium’s Patient Safety Organization, one on the first 10 listed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2008. Visit for more information.

About University of Utah Health Care

University of Utah Health Care is the only academic health care system in the Intermountain West. The system and its physicians offer services in more than 200 specialties and its hospitals and clinics are consistently ranked among the country’s best health care facilities by U.S. News & World Report. The system provides care for Utahns and residents of five surrounding states in a referral area encompassing more than 10 percent of the continental United States. The system receives more than 900,000 outpatient visits and more than 26,000 inpatient admissions annually.