Healthcare News & Insights

U.S. News & World Report ranks top children’s hospitals

Hospitals of all types are being scrutinized for their performance with improving patient outcomes. Even children’s hospitals aren’t immune. New rankings released by U.S. News & World Report show how pediatric hospitals are doing with treating young patients in several complex specialties. 

ThinkstockPhotos-465344455Traditionally, it’s harder to evaluate the performance of children’s hospitals since there aren’t any national databases that track pediatric treatment.

While U.S. News and World Report can pull information from Medicare databases to create its rankings for adult hospitals, it can’t do the same for pediatric facilities. So it relies on self-reported data directly from hospitals.

According to the U.S. News & World Report website, the annual rankings rate the performance of pediatric hospitals in 10 different specialties:

  • Diabetes and endocrinology
  • Cancer
  • Gastroenterology and GI surgery
  • Neonatology
  • Cardiology and heart surgery
  • Nephrology
  • Urology
  • Pulmonology
  • Orthopedics, and
  • Neurology & neurosurgery.

This year, information submitted from 106 hospitals was reviewed, and 78 of them ranked in at least one of these specialties for 2016-17.

Top-performing hospitals earned a spot on the Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll, meaning they were highly ranked in at least three different specialties. The following 11 pediatric hospitals made the cut this year:

  • Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital
  • Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
  • Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora
  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Palo Alto, CA, and
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH.

Calculating scores

The organization made a few small changes to its scoring methodology that may affect where children’s hospitals fall on the list. Each year, rankings are determined in part by a reputation survey distributed to pediatric specialists and subspecialists from each specialty. For 2016, this portion of the score wasn’t weighted as highly as it’s been in the past.

In addition, lung transplant survival is now an outcome measure that factors into a facility’s pulmonology ranking. And pediatric facilities get extra credit toward their score if they take the initiative to report their heart surgery outcomes publicly on the Society for Thoracic Surgeons website.

As written in an FAQ about the rankings, the bulk of this year’s score (over 50%) focused on each pediatric hospital’s commitment to safety and excellence, as well as being centered on the needs of patients’ families. A third of the score was influenced by patient outcomes, including mortality, infections and complications. Reputation accounted for 15%.

Effects on hospitals

Unlike past years, data submitted by unranked children’s hospitals that didn’t hit the mark is listed in this year’s analysis as well. This may be attributed to the growing focus on transparency in health care, where the emphasis is on providing patients and their families with data to make more informed decisions.

In light of this, pediatric hospitals may face more questions from patients’ families about quality and outcomes – even if they didn’t submit any data for the rankings. It’s smart for hospitals to start preparing for this development and figure out how they’ll handle these requests in the future.

Overall, the U.S. News & World Report ratings give pediatric hospitals a chance to compare their performance against that of their highly ranked peers. This is an excellent way to figure out where your facility stands, as well as the areas you should focus on to improve patient outcomes.

Because scrutiny will only increase as payments for services become more tied to value, now’s the time to learn from hospitals that are doing it right.

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