We learned today that St. Luke’s has again been named to one of the 15 Top Health Systems in the United States; this list includes, among others, The Mayo Clinic, Penn Medicine and Asante. This is incredible company to keep.
The top 15 list does all hospitals and health systems a great service by objectively assessing the quality of care in the United States. For health systems, top 15 recognition reflects safer care, better care experiences and outcomes, operational efficiency and fewer lives lost.
The list, formerly known as the IBM Watson Health 15 Top Health Systems, is a balanced perspective. For patients and community members, the rankings represent improved care; from the consumer standpoint, they signify unnecessary costs avoided.
As I reflect on St. Luke’s ninth consecutive year of being a top performing health system, I am, first and foremost, humbled to be associated with an organization that is so committed to excellence in its care and its support of the mission to improve the health of people in the communities we serve. St. Luke's is one of only three health systems to earn a top 15 ranking at least nine times.
It certainly takes all of us, together, to achieve such sustainable high performance, and that begins with leadership, including our board of directors and our senior executives. My appreciation goes out to them.
However, I am especially appreciative to each one of our employees and providers, who sustain this commitment to excellence each and every day. They are at the front line of care, and without their dedication, recognition and outcomes like this are not possible.
This news has given me the opportunity to reflect on how much change we all have experienced in the past 25 months, since COVID-19 first arrived in Idaho, from accelerated virtual care platforms and remote patient monitoring to supply chain shortages, revised workflows and policies, vaccinations, workforce challenges and the resulting fatigue and exhaustion.
Considering so much change, it may feel like nothing of the past remains, but I still see some constants. Many of the characteristics that I believe have been foundational to St. Luke’s continued high performance over these past nine years continue.
For example, we are a community-based, not-for-profit organization, and we know that our families, our friends and we ourselves will receive care with us, so it is personal. Daily, I see examples of our staff, doctors and other providers giving the kind of care that they themselves want to receive. It is compassionate, personalized, continuously striving to be the best possible care in the moment. Without such people and a shared culture of excellence, sustained results reflected in top health system recognition simply are not possible.
Our focus on the team has always been present, and it has been both challenged by and revitalized during the pandemic. People come to work because of the people that work beside them. Knowing that people are our most valuable resources, and that attitudes, beliefs and behaviors shape our culture, we have accelerated our commitment to and investment in St. Luke’s team members.
To have the best people available to provide care, we are investing in diversity, equity and inclusion, a fair and just culture, resiliency, regeneration and growth, and development.
We also remain focused on implementing high-reliability behaviors, including a fair and just culture, among our 17,500-plus employees and credentialed providers, with the understanding that such a transformational change needs to be sensitive to the capacity and emotional state of team members. That journey is a vital piece of our cultural foundation, with the potential to elevate our outcomes in not only safety, but also patient and staff experiences, productivity and quality workforce engagement.
We are coming through the uncertainty of this pandemic with new learnings and a sharpened focus on what truly matters (e.g., our people and our culture), with a vision that continues to look forward to future improvements. For all of this, we are humbled, proud and appreciative.
Dr. Bart Hill is vice president and chief quality officer of St. Luke’s Health System, based in Boise, Idaho.