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University of Iowa News Release

April 19, 2004

Public Health Researchers To Study High-Performing Hospitals

Researchers in the University of Iowa College of Public Health have been awarded several grants to study governing boards in high-performing, not-for-profit hospitals to determine if their attributes differ from similar hospitals whose operating performance is mid-range.

The study is funded by four national organizations with interests in hospital governance: the W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Jennings, Ryan & Kolb, a division of Cross Country Consulting, Inc.; Sullivan, Cotter & Associates; and Witt/Kieffer, Ford, Hadelman & Lloyd.

"Because of economic, environmental, legal and technological changes in the health care field, governance of hospitals has become increasingly complex," observed Lawrence Prybil, Ph.D., UI professor of health management and policy and the study's principal investigator. "Through this study, we want to identify the attributes that differentiate the boards of high-performing hospitals. The basic premise is that good governance will contribute positively to good operating performance."

The study will examine the governance structures, processes and culture in six not-for-profit hospitals deemed to be exceptional performers, as indicated by their inclusion in the Solucient's "100 Top Hospitals" listing in at least three of the past four rankings. Solucient, a commercial provider of health care information resources, periodically evaluates thousands of hospitals on eight measures of performance that gauge clinical quality practice, operations and financial management. The selected hospitals vary in size and are located in several U.S. states. Some are free-standing institutions, some are part of local systems and some are affiliated with regional or national systems.

A matched set of six "comparison hospitals" -- similar institutions whose performance is mid-range as measured by the Solucient methodology -- will be studied to determine if governance in the high-performing hospitals differs from governance in more typical hospitals and, if so, in what ways.

The study is proceeding in two phases: Phase A, completed in February 2004, involved pilot testing the data collection tools and interview protocols in three not-for-profit hospitals that are not part of the study population or the comparison group. Phase B, which will involve studying the boards of hospitals in the study population and their counterparts in the comparison group, is scheduled to take place during the spring and summer of 2004.

Based upon the results of the initial phases, the study could be expanded to include additional high-performing hospitals and their counterparts in the matched comparison group.

The study has received formal endorsement from the Advisory Board Company, the American Hospital Association, the Governance Institute, the Health Research and Educational Trust, the Solucient Institute, and the Voluntary Hospitals of America.

STORY SOURCE: The University of Iowa College of Public Health, Office of Communications, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Dan McMillan, 319-335-6835, daniel-mcmillan@uiowa.edu