What makes the world's top hospitals the best?

March 27, 2023
Last week, Newsweek and Statista published their newest ranking: World's Best Hospitals 2023—first conclusion: the top 10 best healthcare facilities have been ranked high for years. So what's their secret formula? As emphasized by the report's authors, the characteristic trait of top-class hospitals is the consequence of their strive for perfection, breaking internal silos, cooperation, and seamless communication within the team. Managers of the winning facilities speak of attracting the best talent, a clear vision, high aspirations, inspiring work environments for young employees, and an emphasis on the treatment outcomes. The ability and willingness to continue introducing innovations and motivating leadership also play a crucial role. It is no magic – just good organization The hospital that regularly occupies the first spot on the podium in most international rankings is the Mayo Clinic (63,000 employees). The hospital has been working on its reputation for years, and the excellence of Mayo's operations is described in the medical community as the "Mayo magic." A repeating element of interviews with its management is the statement of "patients first." And this is not just a good slogan. The Mayo health care system achieves this by focusing on teamwork rather than hierarchy. This philosophy is a part of their history. At the end of the 19th century, William and Charles Mayo, brothers and physicians, together with a small group of other founders, including Franciscan Nuns, created a model of medical cooperation inspired by helping local victims of a tornado. Teams of specialists provided patient-focused care. Back then, no one knew the meaning of "patient-centered care." Work at Mayo takes place within physician specialties but also at the administrative and nursing levels. In practice, this means that patients receive complete care and service during just a single visit, and sometimes they are immediately directed to a specialist without needing another visit.
In Mayo, collaboration is first, not the individual career
Over the years, the clinic has also built its "digital doors" approach – which stands for virtual service for the patient even prior to the visit itself. Recently, the "home hospital" approach has been introduced. If possible, patients are treated at home, and their health status is monitored through remote health technology. Mobile teams regularly visit patients to conduct additional checks of their health status (maintain contact, provide psychological support, etc.). However, the essential component of the treatment is access to data – working in teams and breaking silos is easier when every team member has access to patient documentation. Another interesting concept introduced at Mayo Clinic: the organization is managed by physicians under a dual leadership model. Managers are doctors, but they are supported by administrative directors. The division of competencies is clear, and such a duo guarantees the reconciliation of clinical priorities with organizational ones. Employees with over five years of practice receive the same salary within their specialty, enabling them to focus on patients and partnerships rather than on their careers. As admitted by representatives of the management, such a model is controversial and requires a different attitude from the employees, but the yield is in the form of good teamwork. [caption id="attachment_28854" align="alignleft" width="1318"]What's the secret of the Mayo Clinic's quality of care? Here managers are physicians. What's the secret of the Mayo Clinic's quality of care? Here managers are physicians.[/caption] Let's summarize the key areas that help Mayo to continue being a leader in healthcare:
  1. Patient-focused approach
Mayo prioritizes patients' comfort at every stage of their journey. The patient's experience is well planned, from booking the visit to contacting the physician and the care team, even when the patient remains at home—in this area, providing patients with information that can help them make decisions together with the doctor/carer. Mayo features a comprehensive website with a symptom checker, disease library, and tips on preparing for a visit. A mobile app is an additional feature.
  1. Leadership combined with medical experience
Combining the target of a stable financial situation with the best care poses a tremendous challenge. A model based on physicians-leaders conducting management jointly with experts in a strictly administrative position is atypical, but it works. The flat hierarchy favors communication and work within the care teams. All of this requires an organizational culture focused on innovation – continuous perfecting of the processes and introducing changes aimed at improving the quality and care indices. Of crucial importance is the capability of drawing and keeping talented people, which, given the medical staff shortages, is not an easy task. On the other hand, nurses and physicians prefer to work in prestigious facilities with a modern infrastructure where patients are cared for, but also taking into account their work comfort and professional burnout prevention.
  1. Modern technologies
One of the most critical elements characterizing the best hospitals is the strategic and well-thought-out implementation of technologies: from solutions for facility administration, systems facilitating the doctor's care of the patient (seamless data exchange), to apps for patients helping them navigate around the healthcare system and receiving help as needed. Digital health offers ever-new possibilities – AI systems to analyze the data from EDM and warnings prior to deterioration of the patient's condition, solutions for monitoring the health status of patients with chronic diseases, and mobile apps helping with health management. The most important thing is to introduce innovations in the organization so that they form one coherent healthcare ecosystem instead of being a source of frustration due to the lack of data integration.
  1. Care coordination, quality without compromise
Seamless care is about building organizational procedures and solutions that support the patient path from crossing the hospital's doors. Where possible, procedures must be simplified and the administrative processes automated (in terms of data exchange). Quality comes from numerically specified indicators, which are monitored continuously. In order to improve the results, changes in the clinical and organizational procedures should be constantly introduced where bottlenecks are found (lean healthcare). It is hard not to agree with these principles of striving for quality. However, where to start when managers often must focus on extinguishing fires with no time for strategic planning? Management leaders would say that strategic planning answers the vicious circle of crisis management.