Memorial Health earns ‘best cardiac care’ award

Filed under: Health Care |

Memorial Health System ranks highest in Colorado for cardiac care, cardiology services, cardiac surgery and coronary interventional procedures, according to the HealthGrades report.
The study is the largest of its kind and analyzed patient outcomes at 5,000 hospitals during 2004, 2005 and 2006. The report ranked Memorial among the top 5 percent for cardiac care and gave it five stars for coronary bypass surgery, coronary interventional procedures and treatment of heart attacks.
The report was created by HealthGrades, an independent rating company. At hospitals rated with five stars, the report found that patients have, on average, a 71 percent lower chance of dying than those treated at one-star hospitals.
“Our research shows that while the overall quality of hospital care in America is improving, the gap between the best-performing hospitals and the worst persists,” said Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades’ chief medical officer and author of the study. “This persistent gap makes it imperative that anyone planning to be admitted to the hospital do their homework and seek out highly rated facilities.”
HealthGrades researchers analyzed Medicare discharges from virtually every U.S. hospital between 2004 and 2006. Risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates were calculated and hospitals were given one star for poor, three stars for as expected and five stars for best ratings for 28 diagnoses and procedures, ranging from heart failure to hip replacement.

Key findings from the HealthGrades report:

  • Gaps persist between the best and the worst hospitals across all procedures and conditions studies. Five-star hospitals had statistically significantly lower risk-adjusted mortality across all three years studied.
  • Across all procedures and conditions, there was about a 52 percent lower chance of dying at a five-star rated hospital compared to the U.S. hospital average.
  • The nation’s in-hospital risk adjusted mortality improved by 11.84 percent from 2004 to 2006.
  • If every hospital in the nation performed at the five-star level, more than 266,000 lives would have been saved.
  • More than half the deaths in hospitals are associated with only four diagnoses: sepsis, pneumonia, heart failure and respiratory failure.
  • Fourteen states performed better than predicted, while 19 performed statistically worse than predicted.
  • The East North Central region had the lowest mortality rate, while the South had the highest.
  • Colorado is one of the top five states, with the highest percentage of best-performing hospitals in cardiac surgery and treatments of heart attacks.

Penrose-St. Francis Health Center earned five stars for its treatment of heart failure, according to the report. But HealthGrades awarded it three stars — performing as expected — for coronary intervention procedures and coronary bypass surgery. Memorial earned three stars for survival after heart failure.
The report is available at

Premium hikes slow

Health insurance premiums increased at the slowest pace in eight years, marking the fourth consecutive year premium increases have declined, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust.
The Employer Health Benefits 2007 Annual Survey found that health insurance premiums increased by 6.1 percent during 2007.
“Health insurance plans’ focus on prevention and wellness, disease management, tiered prescription drug plans and other innovative tools continue to mitigate the rising cost of medical care,” said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report, The Factors Fueling Rising Health Care Costs 2006, credited tiered prescription drug formularies as “one of the most striking reasons” prescription drug cost growth has declined in recent years.
“Today’s report shows that the country is taking steps in the right direction on health care costs,” Ignagni said. “Further progress is within reach if policymakers allow more flexible benefit designs; give patients and doctors information on the safety, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of prescription drugs, medical devices and procedures; and reform the broken medical liability system.”
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.