Arizona Healthcare Financial Management Association (AZHFMA)

Phoenix Children's Hospital improves scores on 'U.S. News' list

Phoenix Children's Hospital made big improvements on this year's U.S. News & World Report's children's hospitals list - but still hasn't made the national honor roll.

Like last year, PCH ranked No. 1 on the report's pediatric hospital list in Arizona. But last year it only ranked in six specialties, down from ranking in all 10 specialties during 2016.

This year, PCH made its way back to rank in all 10 specialties again - while improving in every specialty.

It ranked 20th in cancer, ninth in cardiology and heart surgery, 35th in diabetes and endocrinology, 26th in gastroenterology and GI surgery, 34th in neonatology, 23rd in nephrology, 28th in neurology and neurosurgery, 24th in orthopedics, 39th in pulmonology and 28th in urology.

It took a concerted effort to get to that position, said Dr. Daniel Ostlie, a surgeon at PCH. From nurses, to technicians to administrators, staff looked for ways to improve quality of care and outcomes, he said.

For example, one metric in the neonatal intensive care units measured the number of times babies lost their breathing tubes, which was higher than Ostlie said was acceptable to the team.

"Nurses took it upon themselves to find what went wrong and stop it," he said. "They assigned somebody to be the airway protector and developed systems to protect the airway when the babies moved."

In the hematology/oncology department, pediatric patients were given fluids before chemotherapy treatments so the chemo didn't hurt their kidneys, but that took half a day, which meant chemo treatments were pushed later in the day. Now, the IV fluids are given in an outpatient setting, shortening the length of stay by half a day, he said.

Many other examples like these helped PCH improve its scores this year, officials said. Still elusive, though is the national honor roll.

Making the honor roll can be tough for a fairly new hospital competing against hospitals that have been in business for 100 years. That's because one of the components in the ranking is reputation.

Surveys are sent to physicians across the country asking about the reputation of children's hospitals in their own specialty areas, he said.

"That's where we tend to get dinged," Ostlie said. "Reputation counts 15 percent of the overall score."Making the 2018-19 Best Children's Hospitals Honor Roll were:

1. Boston Children's Hospital
2. Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
3. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
4. Texas Children's Hospital
5. Children's National Medical Center
6. Children's Hospital Los Angeles
7. Nationwide Children's Hospital
8. Johns Hopkins Children's Center
9. Children's Hospital Colorado
10. Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago

"We're not gonna stop here," Ostlie said. "This is just a step on the way to constantly improving. I'm excited about the direction we're heading."

Angela Gonzales, Senior Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal