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Leadership Blog

Continuing Recognition from U.S. News & World Report

Syed Raza, MD, FACP, Vice President of Medical Operations at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center

November 17, 2023 Posted in: Leadership
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Once again, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and four other St. Luke’s Health hospitals have received high rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Not only is BSLMC a nationally ranked “Best Hospital,” it was also named the No. 2 hospital in the Houston Metro Area and No.3 in Texas. In addition, St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands Hospital, St. Luke’s Health–The Vintage Hospital, St. Luke’s Health Memorial Hospital–Lufkin, and St. Joseph Health were each named “High Performing” hospitals in treating multiple conditions.

Why Rankings Still Matter

In recent years, several prominent universities have leveled criticisms at U.S. News & World Report’s annual education rankings, with some even withdrawing their participation. But hospitals are not colleges (even if SLH is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine).

Many universities aren’t used to being ranked on a regular basis. Hospitals, on the other hand, are used to multiple annual rankings, including those given by the federal U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). While no ranking system is perfect, and every entity uses a different formula for evaluation, hospital ratings do provide important information for patients and their families. 

Transparency in health care is increasingly important as patients search for doctors they can trust. But you won’t find many families pulling up the CMS website. The USNWR rankings are easily accessible, and I do think they give an accurate overall view of how a hospital takes care of a patient. 

Why It Matters That We’re a ‘Best Hospital’

Even before we teamed up with Baylor, St. Luke’s Health has long been known for its advanced cardiac care. In these most recent rankings, BSLMC (with The Texas Heart Institute) is still ranked 17th in the nation for Cardiology, Heart & Vascular Surgery. But to truly become a great hospital, we have had to broaden our advanced surgical practices into other departments. Our joint partnership with Baylor College of Medicine, initiated in 2014, has allowed us to do that. In the latest rankings, we are designated:

 

We continue to build strength in these specialties, and we think we will be nationally ranked in other specialties soon, such as Ear, Nose & Throat. Additionally, our Cancer, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics, and Pulmonology & Lung Surgery service lines were designated as “High Performing.” As even more Baylor College of Medicine specialists begin seeing patients and building institutes of care, our rankings will continue to improve, although our outcomes are already excellent.

Our Physicians Make the Difference

The principal reason for our ranking success? Our outstanding physicians. Whether they are affiliated with the Baylor College of Medicine or independent, each one brings an academic zeal to our multidisciplinary approach to medicine.

The thing that makes us different from other hospitals is that instead of having one or two subspecialists, we’ll have an entire group of subspecialists, each focused on one different part of their specialty. And not only are these physicians leaders in their field, they’re often the people who have written the guidelines when it comes to taking care of patients.

Our ‘High Performing’ Treatments Continue to Grow

The accolades go beyond our service lines. U.S. News designated BSLMC as “High Performing” for the following procedures and treating the following conditions:

  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

  • Aortic Valve Surgery

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

  • Colon Cancer Surgery

  • Diabetes

  • Heart Attack

  • Heart Bypass Surgery

  • Heart Failure

  • Kidney Failure

  • Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma

  • Lung Cancer Surgery

  • Pneumonia

  • Prostate Cancer Surgery

  • Stroke

  • Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

 

We’re not surprised to see so many cancer treatments on this list. Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center is one of only three National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in Texas. Not many facilities can take care of acute leukemic patients, but we can, and we have outstanding outcomes.

We have also long had high-performing surgeons for the most complicated abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysm repairs. These are extremely resource-heavy procedures, and there are only a handful of places that perform them with much volume. We even have an ICU specifically for those patients. You’re not going to find that many places.

 

Our Sister Hospitals Are ‘High Performing,’ Too

It is crucial to the success of SLH that all our facilities provide outstanding care. So it is gratifying to know that U.S. News & World Report has recognized the exceptional programs at four of our system hospitals:

 

While some of the physicians at BSLMC also see patients at these hospitals, all our specialists are experts in their own right, involved with patient care from beginning to end. 

Going Beyond Reputation Alone

Our standings in U.S. News & World Report and other rankings show proof of our excellence beyond our renowned reputation. Increasingly, all the ranking systems are emphasizing patient outcomes, satisfaction and safety. 

The challenge for facilities like ours is that we specialize in providing care to the sickest of the sick—patients who need a significantly higher level of care. In fact, when you look at the top 50 hospitals, according to U.S. News & World Report, we have the third highest severity of illness. To maintain outstanding outcomes, we must take care of our patients at the highest standard of care. That we continue to do so, year after year, is a testament to our quality.

We know the only way to rise in the rankings is to have better outcomes, decreased mortality, decreased readmissions, decreased length of stay and improved patient satisfaction. It’s gratifying that we have seen this consistent improvement at BLSMC and our other hospitals.

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