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Hillsboro Area Hospital Achieves Top 100


Submitted by Mike Plunkett of The Journal News

Hillsboro Area Hospital is one of the best Critical Access Hospitals in the country. That, according to iVantage Health Analytics, who named the hospitals one of the "Top 100" in the United States.

Hillsboro Area Hospital is one of only two in Illinois to make the Top 100 list, along with Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in Lincoln. A Critical Access Hospital (CAH) is certified under a set of Medicare conditions that structure it differently than an acute care hospital. Among other conditions, CAHs offer 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency care in largely rural areas, focusing on providing care for out-patients and common conditions while referring other conditions to larger hospitals.

Hillsboro Area Hospital scored in the top 100 out of 1,300 CAHs in the country, according to iVantage, a source that measures hospitals across 62 different performance metrics grouped into nine pillars: inpatient market share, outpatient market share, population risk, quality, outcomes, patient perspective, costs, charges, and financial stability.

"What gets measured, gets effected," Hillsboro Area Hospital CEO Rex Brown said. "We're always looking for benchmarks."

Of the nine pillars, Brown said Hillsboro Area Hospital performed the strongest in quality and patient perspectives, and lowest in inpatient market share.

"However, our out-patient market share is strong," Brown said. "The out-migration of in-patients has nothing to do with quality; it's about referral patterns."

Trek to the Top 100

Hillsboro Area Hospital's rise to one of the Top 100 was not be accident.

"About 10 years ago, the hospital board said, 'we will be equal to or better than our competitiors,'" Brown said. "They were not talking about financial indicators. They were talking quality."

To arrive at that goal, the hospital invested in its facilities, in its technology, and in its staff.

"It started with people," Brown said. "Engaged employees know they are making a difference and adopt best practices more quickly. That improves our quality and patient satisfaction. It all starts with our staff."

Toward that end, the hospital engaged Press Ganey, a national company that provides support to health care providers in understanding and improving the entire patient experience. The hospital's strides through those efforts have led to several Press Ganey awards, including the "Guardians of Excellence" award last fall, and a Top Workplace award by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year.

In addition to staff, Hillsboro Area Hospital has made investments to stay on the cutting edge of technology in many areas.

The hospital invested in digital mammography - and now 3D mammography - before any hospital in Springfield was using that technology. Hillsboro Area Hospital also has the latest CT scan, MRI, and X-ray technology.

"When you come to our emergency room, it now takes less than an hour for an X-ray to be read and returned," Brown said.

Hillsboro Area Hospital had twice won similar awards 15 years ago before becoming a Critical Access Hospital in 2004.

Healthstrong Top Hospital

On the way to making the Top 100 list, iVantage named Hillsboro Area Hospital a "Healthstrong Top Hospital," one of 572 hospitals in the country to earn that distinction. According to iVantage, if every hospital in the country performed at the level of the average "healthstrong" hospital, $6.5 billion in out-patient costs and $4.3 billion in inpatient costs could be saved from Medicare alone. Readmissions would be reduced by nearly four percent, and 74,000 lives could be saved.

According to iVantage "healthstrong" research, rural hospitals like Hillsboro serve healthier patients with better access to care and charge less than their urban counterparts.

"While the best rural hospital may charge less, they cost more," according to iVantage analytics. "Rural hospitals are enduring tough financial times."

The company also reported that non-profit facilities like Hillsboro Area Hospital were well represented among the nation's best.

Hillsboro Area Hospital has $20 million annual net revenue and 195 employees.