The annual "100 Top Hospitals: Benchmarks for Success" this year lists 101 U.S. hospitals as examples of superior performance in the industry. The selected hospitals are chosen based on HCIA's benchmarks for clinical, operational and financial excellence.
The study is intended to be used within the industry as a comparative tool for setting improvement goals, not as a means for consumers to compare hospitals, according to the study summary.
"It's not intended to provide health care payors or the general public with information on which to base decisions for selecting or purchasing hospital services. Our purpose is not to rank hospitals in any manner," according to the summary.
This year, the study divided hospitals into five "peer groups," based on hospital size and whether or not it's a teaching hospital, Anderson said.
Twenty hospitals were chosen in each of the three nonteaching groups. Washington County Hospital was listed in the category Nonteaching Hospitals with 250 or More Beds in Service.
Speciality facilities like psychiatric and children's hospitals and hospitals with fewer than 25 beds are excluded, she said.
For nearly a decade, Washington County Hospital has been using HCIA's standards in setting its goals, hospital officials said.
Still, officials said, the award came as a surprise.
"I don't think we ever thought we would be named among those hospitals," said H.W. Murphy, president and chief executive officer of Washington County Health Systems Inc., which owns the hospital. "It's a real thrill."
The credit belongs to the "whole hospital family," including hospital employees, medical staff, board members and the community, Murphy said.
The hospital and its affiliate, Antietam Health Services, employ about 1,500 people, in addition to a medical staff of about 215 independent practitioners, he said.
"It's very exciting to receive such a prestigious award. But more than excitement, it's very satisfying for me," said Lois Harrison, chairwoman of the Washington County Hospital board. "It's an endorsement of what we feel our people in the community have known. This says to everybody, you're on the right track and keep up the good work."
In its fifth year, the HCIA-Mercer study evaluates acute care hospitals around the country based on medical information reported to the federal government, Anderson said.
"It's an unbiased study. It's not based on anecdotal evidence. It's based on purely statistical information," she said.
The HCIA-Mercer study included things like mortality rates, cases with complications, average length of stay, expense per discharge, profitability, proportion and growth of outpatient revenue, occupancy, long-term growth equity and productivity.
A hospital that makes the list is performing well, Anderson said.
"They're balancing quality care and efficient delivery of that care with superior financial performance," she said. "It's quite a significant achievement."
The hospital has made an effort to set and pursue lofty goals rather than focus on certain areas, Murphy said.
"It's just been a constant pursuit of the standard of excellence we wished to achieve," he said.
With more than 5,000 hospitals in the country, it's exciting to be included in an elite list of 100, said Ray Grahe, the hospital's vice president for finance.
"We've placed a lot of emphasis over the last couple years on trying to be a low-cost facility. It's nice to have a report like this that validates that," Grahe said.
HCIA Inc. develops and markets databases and products used to benchmark clinical performance and outcomes, profile best practices and manage the cost and delivery of health care.
William M. Mercer Inc., a unit of March & McLennan Companies, is one of the nation's leading human resources consulting firms.