Piedmont Walton ranked 10th in Georgia by Lown Institute

Piedmont hospitals have three in top 10 for value and equality, including Piedmont Athens and Piedmont Walton

A new ranking of U.S. hospitals by the Lown Institute, a Brookline, Mass.-based nonpartisan think tank, included three Piedmont Healthcare Hospitals in the top 10 in Georgia. Piedmont Athens and Piedmont Walton came in third and 10th respectively. Piedmont Walton’s CEO, Larry Ebert was proud of the local hospital’s recognition

“Piedmont Walton is proud to be recognized as a top ten hospital in Georgia by the Lown Institute,” Ebert said. “Our hospital’s mission is to provide high-quality, patient-centered healthcare, and the safety of our patients is our top priority. We also aim to serve as an economic engine and supporter of the Walton County community, and this recognition demonstrates our team’s commitment to improving the lives of those in our community.”

According to the press release, the Lown Institute used never-before-considered measures for its Lown Institute Hospitals Index to help hospitals better serve and support their communities. The Index shows how nearly 3,300 hospitals nationwide compare on 42 performance indicators. The measures fall under three categories: 

  • Civic Leadership, which assesses a commitment to equity, inclusion and community health;
  • Value of Care, which measures use of unnecessary services; and
  • Patient Outcomes, which evaluates patient outcomes, safety and satisfaction.

“At a time when communities are relying on them like never before, hospitals must rethink what it means to be great,” Vikas Saini, M.D., president of the Lown Institute said in the press release. “COVID-19 highlights how hospitals are essential community partners for anyone in need. To be great, however, a hospital cannot only provide care that’s high in quality. It must also deliver value and advance equality. Our index is designed to help them do just that.” 

Based on the Index measures, Georgia’s top 10 hospitals are:

  1. Wellstar Douglas Hospital – Douglasville
  2. Wellstar Paulding Hospital – Hiram 
  3. Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center – Athens 
  4. Wellstar Cobb Hospital – Austell
  5. Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital – Griffin
  6. Piedmont Fayette Hospital – Fayetteville
  7. Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center – Atlanta 
  8. Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center – Lagrange
  9. Fannin Regional Hospital – Blue Ridge 
  10. Piedmont Walton Hospital – Monroe

“There are some very fine hospitals that feel forced to focus on profitable elective procedures to stay in business,” said Saini. “This can lead to business decisions that make them look good on outcomes like mortality, but at the expense of equity. The data show that gaps between a hospital’s clinical results and its performance in the community are sometimes very wide, which can contribute to disparities in care and put certain communities at risk.” 

The Lown Index results are available at LownHospitalsIndex.org where people can compare hospitals based on location, hospital type, and metric. It is also the data source for the Washington Monthly’s “Best Hospitals for America” issue, released simultaneously. 

Civic Leadership

Under “civic leadership,” the Index measures often-overlooked indicators that are essential to understanding how hospitals behave in their communities, both where they succeed and where improvement is needed. It’s different from other hospital rankings because it is the first to address how much hospitals spend on meaningful community benefits, as well as the proportion of low-income patients they serve.  Nonprofit hospitals get billions of dollars in tax breaks every year but vary widely in how much they give in community benefits. The Index is the first hospital ranking to measure inclusivity, or the degree to which a hospital is caring for patients of color and of lower income or education. It is also the first to measure the ratio of executive compensation to that of employees without advanced degrees. Many of the hospitals that perform best in civic leadership are not names most have heard before. In Georgia, top hospitals on civic leadership are Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, Grady Memorial Hospital, and University Hospital Mcduffie. 


To determine hospitals’ value of care, the Lown Institute assessed hospitals based on estimates of their rates of overuse, including hysterectomy for benign disease, head imaging for simple headaches, and 11 other procedures and tests. The Lown Institute is the first hospital ranking to use such a metric. The research found that for-profit hospitals and those in certain states, particularly in the South, were more likely to overuse low-value services measured.  In Georgia, top hospitals on value are Grady Memorial Hospital, Crisp Regional Hospital, and Dorminy Medical Center. Patient Outcomes

To determine hospitals’ quality of care, the Lown Institute used an algorithm called the Risk Stratification Index (RSI) that has been validated on multiple national, state-based and hospital-based datasets using billions of insurance claims. RSI has been shown to predict outcomes such as mortality with greater discriminatory accuracy compared with other publicly available risk adjustment tools. In Georgia, top hospitals on quality are Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, Piedmont Fayette Hospital, and Wellstar Douglas Hospital. “No other hospital ranking provides a 360-degree view of hospital performance,” said Shannon Brownlee, senior vice president at the Lown Institute. “Many of the best-known hospitals score highly on patient outcomes but poorly on civic leadership and value of care. Our data show that it’s possible to do well in all three categories, because some hospitals are doing it. That means all the people in their communities are being served effectively and fairly.” The Index uses data from a wide variety of sources, including the 100 percent Medicare claims datasets (MEDPAR and outpatient);Internal Revenue Service pulled from Community Benefit Insight database; Healthcare Cost Report Information System administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Securities and Exchange Commission filings; public records; Bureau of Labor Statistics; and other databases. # # # Founded in 1973 by Nobel Peace Prize winner Bernard Lown, MD, developer of the defibrillator and cardioverter, the Lown Institute focuses on health care issues such as medical overuse and underuse, health equity, and cost of care. The Institute believes a radically better system of health is possible and advances bold ideas to achieve this. Learn more at www.lowninstitute.org.

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