Healthcare News & Insights

Significant updates to major hospital ranking system

Ranking high on popular lists of “best hospitals” can be a major PR boost for many facilities. Now, one familiar institution has announced big changes to how it rates hospitals – and it could have an effect on where your facility falls on the list. 

HospitalU.S. News & World Report just changed how it’ll determine which hospitals end up on its Best Regional Hospitals list.

The changes, designed to paint a clearer, more accurate picture of hospital performance, will be in effect when the organization releases its updated list in July.

Here’s a rundown of the biggest changes to the rankings:

  1. Eligibility limits. In the past, hospitals from all different kinds of specialties were eligible to be included on the Best Regional Hospitals list. Now, it’s limited to general acute care hospitals only. This means that hospitals that only specialize in areas like surgery, cancer treatment or rehabilitation won’t be included on the list.
  2. Focus on common care. Recently, U.S. News & World Report came out with a new list showing how hospitals fared when it came to five common illnesses and procedures, including congestive heart failure and knee replacements. These ratings will now play a role in the Best Regional Hospitals ranking. Hospitals can be included on the list if they were categorized as “high-performing” in at least two of the five areas.
  3. Role of complex care. Although a bigger focus is being shifted onto common care, performance for more complex treatments will still be considered when creating the list. General acute-care hospitals will be recognized as one of the top regional hospitals if they are either ranked in the top 50 nationally for treating certain specialty conditions, or if they’re rated as high-performing in the specialty. Conditions considered include cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, gynecology, diabetes and endocrinology – there are 12 in all.
  4. Stricter standards. Going forward, it’ll be much harder for a hospital to earn designation as high-performing. Previously, a hospital could still be classified as high-performing in a certain specialty if it performed better than 75% of hospitals scored, but didn’t make the top 50. Now, hospitals will have to perform better than 90% of hospitals scored to achieve this distinction.

Ranks in each region

In regional rankings, hospitals with more national rankings in the 12 areas of complex specialty care will outrank others in their area with fewer national rankings. And those with more high-performing ratings will score higher than other hospitals in their region.

If hospitals are equally matched in terms of national rankings and high-performing ratings, their spots will be chosen based on which facility has fewer below-average ratings for common care.

Only if they’re equal in all three areas will facilities be considered as having “tied” scores with the same regional ranking.

What it means to you

These changes may drastically affect where your hospital falls on this list – or even if it makes the cut at all.

So it’s key for your facility to be aware of these new criteria and to prepare to answer patient inquiries if you’re suddenly demoted on the list – or to take advantage of the positive publicity should your facility earn a spot on it.

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