Patients Transferred to Academic Medical Centers From Community Hospitals Are Sicker Now, But Survival Rates up, According to New Data From University HealthSystem Consortium

Mar 09, 2011, 12:11 ET from University HealthSystem Consortium

OAK BROOK, Ill., March 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Thousands of the nation's most at-risk patients have been saved over the last three years by advanced care at academic medical centers (AMCs). Based on data submitted by 86 university hospitals to University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), the volume of critically ill patients transferred from community hospitals to AMCs has risen steadily over this time period. These patients receive initial treatment from community hospitals, but require more advanced, specialized care that AMCs are more equipped to provide.

"Sicker patients are being transferred to AMCs more often," said Mark A. Keroack, MD, MPH, UHC's Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President. "This is good news for patients as our data shows that AMCs have decreased the risk of death for those transferred patients by 17 percent over a three year time period."

According to UHC data, the severity of these patients' conditions as measured by case mix intensity and expected mortality rates has increased, however, the actual mortality rate has declined. AMCs have seen an 18 percent increase of transfers into their facilities, representing 42,392 patients, along with 13 percent increase in acuity of those transfers based on UHC risk adjusted models.

"Our member organizations have been working to strengthen their ties with community hospitals," said Keroack. "Enhancing programs for routine care in community sites seems to result in increased AMC capacity for the challenging patients that AMCs are best equipped to care for.  The result is a win-win for both types of institutions as well as for patients."

Academic medical centers are continuously improving the quality of patient care.

"Combined with new technologies in diagnosis and treatment, patients are experiencing better chances of survival," said Julie Cerese, RN, MSN, UHC's Vice President for Performance Improvement. "Since 2002, UHC has worked closely with its member organizations to improve the safety and quality of care. This work is occurring across academic medicine and includes improvements in assessing pre-operative risks, reducing post-operative complications, increasing the use of safer technologies to manage illness and disease and incorporating new strategies to manage patients."  

Initiatives include practices to improve the prompt recognition and treatment of deteriorating patients, implementing evidence-based practices in the care of high risk populations (e.g., stroke, heart attack and pneumonia), improvements in the coordination of care and the supervision of residents and students.  

A detailed study of UHC's work with AMCs to reduce mortality was published in the December 2009 edition of Academic Medicine.

About UHC

The University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), formed in 1984, is an alliance of 112 academic medical centers and 255 of their affiliated hospitals, representing more than 90% of the nation's nonprofit academic medical centers. UHC offers its members specific programs and services to improve clinical, operational, financial, and patient safety performance. The mission of UHC is to create knowledge, foster collaboration, and promote change to help members succeed. For more information, visit

SOURCE University HealthSystem Consortium