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Sentara ranks top in nation

For the second time in 10 years, Sentara Healthcare has been ranked as the top integrated health care system in the nation, according to SDI Health and “Modern Healthcare” magazine.

The annual ranking measures eight performance indicators, such as clinical integration, technology integration, services offered, financial stability and more. Sentara is the only health system that has been listed in the top 10 each of the 13 years the list has been compiled.

“It’s a nice recognition, I think, of a lot of hard work by a lot of people in our health system over the years,” said David L. Bernd, chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. “It’s just a recognition of Sentara’s work to provide more seamless services.”

In a reflection of the economy’s effect on health care systems, one of the factors that carried the greatest weight for 2010 was financial stability. Bernd said financial stability is an important factor in Sentara’s services.

“Our management team and all our physicians and employees have worked hard in recent years to maintain high-quality patient care while managing those expenses we can control,” added Bernd. “We feel very good about the work that we’ve done to manage through the recession, as it reflects a real team effort.”

In addition to fiscal responsibility, the use of technology to improve patient care and safety was a major factor in the decision. Sentara’s implementation of Sentara eCare, its electronic medical record system, allows patients to keep the same medical records — from their doctor’s office to the emergency room to the specialist’s laboratory.

“When we engineered this up front, we made sure it was seamless,” Bernd said.

The eCare system not only makes patient care more efficient, but also decreases the amount of paperwork and the chance of mistakes across the system, Bernd said.

In addition, the MyChart program allows patients at Sentara practices to keep track of their own medical record from home using their Internet connection. The program also allows patients to communicate with their doctors and ask questions through the Internet, making both doctors and patients more engaged in the health care process.

“It makes health care more efficient,” Bernd said. “This transformation in the way we deliver care is helping Sentara ensure the highest quality and safest patient environment.”

In spite of the economy, Sentara continued to grow in 2009, adding Potomac Hospital in northern Virginia to its list of affiliates. Optima grew its health plan coverage statewide, and Sentara Home Health acquired offices in Charlottesville and Bath County.

Other Virginia health care systems ranked in the top 100 nationally include Bon Secours Richmond Health System (8th), Riverside Health System (23rd), Carilion Clinic (37th), and Inova Health System (43rd).