U.S. News & World Report has released its annual ranking of the best hospitals in the country.
The news magazine known for ranking colleges and universities says that the information helps patients make more informed health care decisions.
“We strive to provide patients with the highest-quality information on hospitals available,” Ben Harder, chief of health analysis at U.S. News, said in a press release announcing the rankings. “Driving for broader transparency and evaluating hospitals in a comprehensive, fair way reflects that mission.”
This year’s top-rated hospitals are:
Much like disappointed college students, some health care professionals are questioning whether rankings matter.
Stat News’ Casey Ross points out that U.S. News & World Report’s rankings don’t match the rankings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“No matter how objective the metrics, ratings are inherently subjective,” Casey explains. “The information itself may be objective, but which data points are used — and how they are weighted — can lead to contradictory conclusions.”
“Consider the following: Of US News & World Report’s’ top five hospitals, only one — Mayo Clinic — received a top, five-star rating from CMS. The rest — Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, UCLA Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins — were not even in CMS’ top 100. (Johns Hopkins did not receive a rating from CMS because of incomplete data).”
Gee… That sounds awfully similar to the problem with value frameworks for life-saving treatments and medications. Aren’t value frameworks just a way of ranking treatments?
Rankings and frameworks make us feel good because they provide order. They are a system for understanding very complicated, anxiety-filled decisions. And they are much influenced by “whoever” is calculating the rankings. Rather than striving for a universal, one-size-fits-all standard, our focus should go in the opposite direction. We need the right patient to get the right treatment at the hospital that is right for them.
“I think most of them have not had a positive impact as a whole because most of these rankings are there to advance the businesses purpose of the people who do the rankings. They’re not public-service functions, to be honest. The public doesn’t really know which rating is more credible than which other one, and I think the noise is probably not our friend in educating the public.”
— Cynthia Barnard, vice president for quality at Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, on the value of the newly-released hospital rankings.
The Hill reports that there’s a growing frustration over the collapse of co-ops operating under the Affordable Care Act.
This year, as more co-ops have closed their doors, thousands of patients have scrambled to gain access to health coverage. Just seven of the original 23 co-ops now remain.
“The latest round of failures poses an even thornier problem than earlier cases because enrollees’ coverage is now being disrupted in the middle of the year,” the Hill reports. “That can increase patients’ out of pocket costs and make it harder to keep the same doctors.”