Avera awarded by IBM Watson Health as one of the nation’s top health systems

Aug. 22, 2019

Avera Health was presented an award Wednesday by IBM Watson Health, recognizing it as one of the nation’s top 15 health systems.

Representatives from IBM Watson presented the award, which was announced this spring, at Avera’s biannual Quality Congress in front of an audience of more than 500 people. It is based on a scorecard of publicly available clinical, operational and patient satisfaction metrics and data.

This year’s 15 top health systems study evaluated 337 health systems and 2,961 member hospitals to identify the 15 U.S. health systems with the highest overall achievement. The focus was on five performance domains: inpatient outcomes, process of care, extended outcomes, efficiency and patient experience. This is the first time Avera Health has been recognized with the honor.

“The one thing that strikes me about Avera is their overall team commitment to quality and high performance,” said Jay Peterson, client executive at IBM Watson Health.

“Large health systems often have one location that does very well. But to do this well across the system as Avera has achieved takes a lot of work and effort.”

The system’s pillars are telehealth, ambulatory groups, hospitals and long-term care, he added.

“This is a continuum of care that allows for the ability to drive a higher level of quality, wherever a person is in the patient journey.”

Fewer than 3 percent of integrated delivery systems achieve this level of quality, added Julius Fortuna, value-based care manager at IBM Watson Health.

“This type of consistency of quality in an integrated delivery system is rare,” he said.

“Systems like Avera have a culture of quality that allows them to achieve the metrics associated with value-based purchasing at an extremely high level. You really don’t find it very often.”

This will help Avera as the market trends toward value-based purchasing, he added.

“This organization, because of its corporate governance and direction toward quality, is poised to be able to address the new market trends of value-based purchasing much easier than systems that are less quality-driven,” he said. “Today, approximately 50 percent of reimbursement is tied to value-based purchasing. When we get to the point where that number is 75 or 80 percent, Avera will already be poised and ready to go.”

Quality is a priority for every Avera department and employee, said Bob Sutton, Avera Health president and CEO.

“We have a highly organized, system-quality plan that aligns with the National Quality Strategy and permeates all levels of our health system,” he said. Our largest and smallest facilities embrace the same strategies for ensuring quality, yet each have their own quality identity. This award reflects how Avera approaches care – with top quality in mind.”

The Avera Health system has more than 18,000 employees and physicians, serving more than 300 locations and 100 communities in a five-state region.

The system has seen several recent examples of how teams have made improvements to advance quality practices, said Dr. David Erickson, chief medical and innovation officer.

“We have seen notable successes in many areas, including readmission reduction, harm prevention, antimicrobial stewardship and sepsis care,” he said. “These are examples of Avera’s commitment to being innovative and forward-thinking in our approach to improving quality.”

Avera awarded by IBM Watson Health as one of the nation’s top health systems

Avera Health was presented an award Wednesday by IBM Watson Health, recognizing it as one of the nation’s top 15 health systems.

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