Study says religious hospitals more efficient, provide better care

August 26, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Catholic and other church-run health care systems in the U.S. are more efficient and provide higher quality care than their secular counterparts, according to a new Thomson Reuters study.

The study looked at 255 health care systems and found that Catholic and other church-owned systems are “significantly more likely to provide higher quality care and efficiency” than both investor-owned and nonprofit health systems.

There was no statistical difference between Catholic and other church-run health systems, according to the study, which built on information gleaned from Reuters’ “Top 100 Hospitals” report.

“Our data suggest that the leadership teams ... of health systems owned by churches may be the most active in aligning quality goals and monitoring achievement across the system,” the report stated.

The report was short on specific reasons for religious hospitals’ success, saying that further study will be required to understand the differences. The performance measures included mortality rates, the number of medical complications, readmission rates, lengths of stay, profitability, and other factors.

The Catholic church in the U.S. runs 624 hospitals and 499 long-term health care facilities, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“When your mission is rooted in Jesus who healed the sick, only top quality care will do,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops. “This study confirms what many take for granted. The church leads in providing quality health care efficiently.”

Thomson Reuters provides “information solutions” and data to businesses and executives in the health care, finance, legal and media industries.

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