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U.S. News & World Report announces 2017-18 Best Children’s Hospitals

It’s that time again: U.S. News & World Report has issued its ranking of the Best Children’s Hospitals in the country. This year, there are quite a few familiar facilities on this year’s Honor Roll – as well as some new entries. 

Since 2006, U.S. News has rated children’s hospitals based on their performance in 10 areas:

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

According to an article from U.S. News about the rankings, nearly 200 hospitals and 11,000 doctors filled out surveys designed to gather clinical data and information about each hospital’s reputation.

This year, 82 hospitals (four more than last year) ranked among the top 50 children’s hospitals in at least one of these specialties. Ten facilities made the Honor Roll for achieving high ranks in multiple specialties.

Standout hospitals

Last year’s top four facilities maintained their spots on the Honor Roll: Boston Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Texas Children’s Hospital (Houston).

Other repeat Honor Roll hospitals include Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (ranked sixth), Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (tied for seventh), Nationwide Children’s Hospital (Columbus, OH; tied for seventh) and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (ranked ninth).

Two new hospitals appear in the top 10 this year: Johns Hopkins Children’s Center (Baltimore), which ranked fifth, and Children’s National Medical Center (Washington D.C.), ranking 10th.

Boston Children’s achieved an impressive feat, managing to earn the top spot in half the 10 specialties examined by U.S. News: urology, nephrology, orthopedics, neurology and neurosurgery, and gastroenterology and GI surgery. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ranked first in two areas: diabetes and endocrinology, and pulmonology.

Updates & changes

Every year, U.S. News tweaks and updates its ranking methodology. And this year was no different. Per an FAQ about the rankings, three significant changes took place this year.

For the first time, information about risk-adjusted mortality from the Congenital Heart Surgery Database impacted facilities’ scores in the cardiology and heart surgery category. Risk-adjusted mortality accounted for 20% of each hospital’s cardiology score. In addition, patient outcomes measures (including adjusted mortality) made up a larger percentage of a facility’s score this year (38.3%, compared to 33.3% in 2016). Reputation played a smaller role – it was only considered for 8.5% of the cardiology score, when it was 15% last year.

Another big change: The Honor Roll’s been capped at 10 hospitals. (Eleven received the distinction last year.) In the past, hospitals made the Honor Roll if they ranked in the top 10% of hospitals in three or more specialties. Earning Honor Roll status is now based on the total number of points each hospital receives in all specialties examined. Points are awarded based on numerical rank, instead of a percentage basis.

The last change concerns transparency. U.S. News now publicly identifies the individuals participating in the 12 pediatric working groups that review survey questions and offer advice on interpreting the data. Each specialty ranked has its own working group. The other two groups are made up of professionals with backgrounds in radiology and infection prevention, who offer feedback about all specialties.

Several more changes are planned for future rankings, according to a PDF discussing U.S. News’ survey methodology in detail. Specifically, it plans to expand outcome measures for several specialties (including infection and complication rates), improve risk adjustment to account for differences in patient mix and identify additional measures to evaluate a hospital’s quality (e.g., special awards or certifications received).

Just as with adult hospitals, a greater focus is being placed on how well children recover after they leave the hospital and the quality of care they receive while they’re admitted. With that in mind, hospitals must continue to move forward with providing care focused on value and quality, no matter how old their patients are.

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