Intermountain Health Care has claimed the Healthcare Forum/Witt Award, an industry award presented for quality in the delivery of health care.

Kathryn E. Johnson, president and CEO of The Healthcare Forum, said the Utah company was selected for "demonstrating state-of-the-art technological innovation and clinical applications of continuous quality improvement."John S. Lloyd, president of Witt Associates Inc., said IHC's example should be a challenge to other health organizations. "Intermountain Health Care's massive commitment to quality owes much to its leadership's intelligence, ingenuity and mastery of technology."

IHC officials credit a clinical computing system and studies of health-care processes, a two-step strategy designed to improve the quality of medical care and services.

Company President Scott S. Parker said the recognition is a tribute to the hard work and caring attitudes of employees, board members and physicians.

H. Gary Pehrson, vice president of IHC's professional services, said that quality medical care is cost-effective. "As quality improves, costs tend to decline." Quality management programs could cut the nation's $600 billion medical bill substantially, he said.

IHC uses high-tech tools, such as a system of bedside computers in some of its hospitals. In addition, about 10 years ago the company began a series of quality and efficiency studies, focusing on specific areas of medicine.

IHC, a non-profit health company with headquarters in Salt Lake City, is a conglomerate that manages neighborhood clinics, blood banks, drug programs, as well as hospitals, home nursing and health insurance plans.