Only one WA hospital makes national top 50 cost efficiency ranking


Aaron Kunkler


The Lown Institute today released insights from its cost efficiency analysis of hospitals across the country, and found only one Washington State hospital made the list of top 50 most cost efficient facilities nationwide. 

The rankings were generated by the 2021 Lown Hospitals Index, which was released in September. The EvergreenHealth Medical Center was the only Washington hospital in the top 50 list, at number 33, when ranked by the best 30-day and 90-day outcomes at the lowest per-patient cost to Medicare. The most cost-effective hospital was Pinnacle Hospital in Indiana. 


Stay one step ahead. Join our email list for the latest news.



The study looked at data from more than 3,000 hospitals. For hospitals with average 30-day mortality rates, costs ranged from $9,000 to $27,000 per patient. The study found that if all hospitals matched the performance of the most cost-efficient facilities, it would generate an $8 billion in Medicare savings annually. 

According to the ranking, EvergreenHealth Medical Center was also the most cost efficient hospital in Washington State. In Oregon, it was Asante Ashland Community Hospital. In Alaska, it was Alaska Regional Hospital. 

When ranked by average hospital cost efficiency, Washington State ranked number 15, just behind Arizona and New Jersey. 

The methodology behind the study compared the hospitals’ mortality rates to their Medicare costs. The hospitals with the lowest mortality and lowest costs received the best scores in cost efficiency, the report states. 

For mortality, the 30 and 90-day mortality for Medicare patients between 2016 to 2018 was used. Cost was evaluated the same way. Payments were also standardized for patient risk, and compared certain conditions, so that hospitals with sicker patients weren’t punished in the rankings. Medicare regional costs were also accounted for. The report stated:

“Our goal for the cost efficiency score was to reward hospitals with low mortality rates and low costs, and give the lowest scores to hospitals with high mortality rates and high costs. We also decided to bias our scores to give hospitals with high costs and low mortality a higher score than hospitals with low costs and high mortality. This is because we believe that if there is a trade-off between costs and mortality, we should favor better mortality rates compared to lower costs.”