IBM Watson Health has revealed its 15 Top Health Systems based on overall organizational performance. Formerly known as the Truven Health Analytics 15 Top Health Systems, the rankings have been conducted annually since 2008 and reflect operational and clinical excellence, IBM Watson Health said. 

Top systems earned the ranking at least in part through more consistent care across member hospitals, finding a “small but discernable difference” in the level of individual hospital alignment within the top-performing health systems as well as 1.9 percent lower volatility, the group said.

Demonstrating what separates the best from the rest, top hospitals achieved several benchmarks over their peers including: 14.6 percent fewer in-hospital deaths, 17.3 percent fewer complications and 16.2 percent fewer healthcare-associated infections. They also had a median severity-adjusted length of stay roughly one half-day shorter than peers and median ED wait times 40 minutes shorter per patient as well as 5.6 percent lower per episode combined in-hospital and post-discharge costs. HCAHPS scores for overall hospital experience were also 2.3 percent higher.

Using the study’s findings, IBM Watson health said that if all Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as delivered by the top 15 systems, more than 60,000 lives could have been saved, more than 31,000 more patients could have a complication-free care episode, HAI’s would drop 16 percent and ER wait times would be reduced to 40 minutes or less.

Researchers evaluated 338 health systems and 2,422 member hospitals on nine clinical and operational performance benchmarks to formulate the rankings. Those benchmarks included risk-adjusted inpatient mortality index, risk-adjusted complications index, mean healthcare-associated infection index, mean 30-day risk-adjusted mortality rate, mean 30-day risk-adjusted readmission rate, severity-adjusted length of stay, mean emergency department throughput, Medicare spending per beneficiary index and HCAHPS score. 

The research was based on public data including Medicare cost reports, Medicare Provider Analysis and Review data, Healthcare Associated Infections and patient satisfaction data from the CMS Hospital Compare website.

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