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Houston hospital ranks among the top health care institutions in the nation

Memorial Hermann has been recognized for its overall performance in serving both individuals and the community. Photo via memorialhermann.org

Houston hospitals have been evaluated by a new ranking to determine the institutions that are doing their best to serve their patients and the community as a whole.

Brookline, Massachusetts-based think tank, The Lown Institute, has revealed its national rankings on its Lown Institute Hospitals Index — which evaluated hospitals based on civic leadership (based on inclusion and access), value of care, and patient outcomes (which evaluates safety and satisfaction).

"At a time when communities are relying on them like never before, hospitals must rethink what it means to be great," says Dr. Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Institute, in a news release. "COVID-19 highlights how hospitals are essential community partners for anyone in need. To be great, however, a hospital cannot only provide care that's high in quality. It must also deliver value and advance equality. Our index is designed to help them do just that."

The Texas Medical Center's Memorial Hermann Hospital ranked as No. 9 on the list that evaluated over 3,000 hospitals in the country. The hospitals are also given a grade on each of the three categories. Memorial Hermann received an A for civic leadership, an A- for value of care, and an A+ for patient outcomes — for an overall A+ grade.

Based on ranking, the Houston area's top 10 hospitals, which all received an overall grade of A- or above, are:

  1. Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center (No. 9 in the country; No. 3 in the state)
  2. Harris Health System (No. 23 in the country; No. 5 in the state)
  3. Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital in Humble (No. 165 in the country; No. 15 in the state)
  4. Memorial Hermann Hospital System (No. 297 in the country; No. 17 in the state)
  5. Brazosport Regional Health System in Lake Jackson (No. 304 in the country; No. 18 in the state)
  6. The Woman's Hospital of Texas (No. 373 in the country; No. 25 in the state)
  7. Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital in Katy (No. 374 in the country; No. 26 in the state)
  8. Houston Methodist San Jacinto Hospital in Baytown (No. 627 in the country; No. 43 in the state)
  9. Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital in Sugar Land (No. 648 in the country; No. 44 in the state)
  10. Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center (No. 652 in the country; No. 45 in the state)

The Harris Health System ranked the highest in Houston for civic leadership, and the Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center scored the highest in the region for patient outcomes.

There were three other Texas hospitals among the top 10 in the nation — JPS Health Network in Fort Worth ranked as No. 1, Seton Northwest Hospital in Austin ranked as No. 4, and Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas ranked as No. 10.

The point of the study, according to the release, is to hold hospitals accountable for more than just one factor of success.

"There are some very fine hospitals that feel forced to focus on profitable elective procedures to stay in business," says Saini in the release. "This can lead to business decisions that make them look good on outcomes like mortality, but at the expense of equity. The data show that gaps between a hospital's clinical results and its performance in the community are sometimes very wide, which can contribute to disparities in care and put certain communities at risk."

The study factored in data from a variety of sources, including the 100 percent Medicare claims datasets (MEDPAR and outpatient); Internal Revenue Service pulled from Community Benefit Insight database; Healthcare Cost Report Information System administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Securities and Exchange Commission filings; public records; Bureau of Labor Statistics; and other databases, according to the release.

"No other hospital ranking provides a 360-degree view of hospital performance," says Shannon Brownlee, senior vice president at the Lown Institute, in the release. "Many of the best-known hospitals score highly on patient outcomes but poorly on civic leadership and value of care. Our data show that it's possible to do well in all three categories, because some hospitals are doing it. That means all the people in their communities are being served effectively and fairly."

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A Rice University team of engineers designed a low-cost ventilator, and now the device, which has been picked up for manufacturing, has received approval from the FDA. Photo courtesy of Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

A ventilator that was designed by a team at Rice University has received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ApolloBVM was worked on March by students at Rice's Brown School of Engineering's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, or OEDK. The open-source plans were shared online so that those in need could have access to the life-saving technology. Since its upload, the ApolloBVM design has been downloaded by almost 3,000 registered participants in 115 countries.

"The COVID-19 pandemic pushed staff, students and clinical partners to complete a novel design for the ApolloBVM in the weeks following the initial local cases," says Maria Oden, a teaching professor of bioengineering at Rice and director of the OEDK, in the press release. "We are thrilled that the device has received FDA Emergency Use Authorization."

While development began in 2018 with a Houston emergency physician, Rohith Malya, Houston manufacturer Stewart & Stevenson Healthcare Technologies LLC, a subsidiary of Kirby Corporation that licensed ApolloBVM in April, has worked with the team to further manufacture the device into what it is today.

An enhanced version of the bag valve mask-based ventilator designed by Rice University engineers has won federal approval as an emergency resuscitator for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Stewart & Stevenson

The Rice team worked out of OEDK throughout the spring and Stewart & Stevenson joined to support the effort along with manufacturing plants in Oklahoma City and Houston.

"The FDA authorization represents an important milestone achievement for the Apollo ABVM program," says Joe Reniers, president of Kirby Distribution and Services, in the release. "We can now commence manufacturing and distribution of this low-cost device to the front lines, providing health care professionals with a sturdy and portable ventilation device for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic."

Reniers continues, "It is a testimony to the flexibility of our people and our manufacturing facilities that we are able to readily utilize operations to support COVID-19 related need."

The device's name was selected as a tribute to Rice's history with NASA and President John F. Kennedy's now-famous speech kicking off the nation's efforts to go to the moon. It's meaningful to Matthew Wettergreen, one of the members of the design team.

"When a crisis hits, we use our skills to contribute solutions," Wettergreen previously told CultureMap. "If you can help, you should, and I'm proud that we're responding to the call."

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