U Health Ranked Top 10 in Nation in Quality and Accountability


Kevin Cody

University of Utah Hospital main entrance in Salt Lake City on June 23, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Allison Stuart, News Writer


In 2021, University of Utah Health was ranked top 10 in the nation of the Vizient Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award, for the 12th year in a row.

This ranking is provided by Vizient, an independent organization that ranks different cohorts of healthcare systems. The system uses information from surveys to determine customer satisfaction. They also use data to assess the quality of care provided, along with other aspects such as waiting times and efficiency.

This year the U is ranked fourth in the nation, based on the 2021 Vizient Quality & Accountability Ranking. They were surpassed by three hospitals; Mayo Clinic-Minnesota, Rush University Medical Center and UC San Diego Health.

According to a press release from U Health the ranking “helps participating hospitals and health systems understand their performance against peers and identifies structures and processes associated with high performance in quality and safety across a broad spectrum of patient care activities.”

Institutions are ranked in multiple areas of patient care, like inpatient and outpatient care.

The U was ranked second in ambulatory care in 2021, also known as outpatient care.

“Outpatient is a primary care visit or a visit with a specialist like a dermatologist, so it’s something that you go home from,” said Sandi Gulbransen, chief quality officer for U Health. 

As for inpatient care, when a patient is admitted to the hospital, they were ranked fourth in the nation.

Russell Vinik, an internal medicine specialist, works in inpatient care and hospital medicine. He explained that the most important factor is when it comes to Vizient’s evaluation is the mortality rate. 

“How likely is the patient to survive if they come into your hospital with a significant illness?” Vinik said. “That means everything to us, that patients who get their care at the university are more likely to survive than just about any other big hospital in the country.”

Vinik said Vizient does a good job adjusting the mortality rate due to the high level of transfers they receive.

“We get almost a third of our hospital admissions or transfers from other hospitals because they don’t have the capacity, so the raw mortality rate is not a fair measure by any stretch,” Vinik said. 

This year there were 565 hospitals considered in the ranking. Gulbransen said what makes the U different from their competitors is that the U takes their rankings and the data and uses it to improve, rather than just taking the award.

“This is about learning and improvement, versus getting a merit badge,” Gulbransen said. “It’s a great accomplishment and we’re very, very proud of that. But we focus on providing the safest care in a patient-centered way.”

Additionally, Gulbransen said patients should take away from this that U Health focuses on them.

“That’s the beauty of it, the continuous strive to do better because ultimately, our patients deserve the best,” Vinik said. 

Gulbransen said if the U was not so dedicated to improving the care they would definitely not be in the top 10 in the following years.

“As we get better all of those in the cohort keep getting better as well,” she said. “That’s why we focus on doing what’s right for our patients.”


[email protected]