Hospitals pay to use U.S. News 'Best Hospitals' logo

Hospital staff and administration work hard to earn a place in the U.S. News and World Report 's Best Hospital rankings each year, but those same hospitals then pay the publication if they want to use the "Best Hospitals" logo in advertising, according to WDAF-TV in Kansas City, Missouri.

Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics pays $42,000 a year to use the logo, WDAF-TV reported. However, the station said that some hospitals would not comment as to how much they pay to use the "Best Hospitals" branding.

The University of Kansas Hospital said the hospital does not pay for U.S. News to rank the hospital, but does pay to use the logo in its advertising, although a hospital spokeswoman wouldn't reveal how much because of contractual agreements, the news outlet reported. "I think it's absolutely appropriate for businesses to expect if you're going to use their logo that there are restrictions put with that use of the logo," she said.

But that decision means there is a lack of transparency in the ranking system, Suzanne Discenza, Ph.D., a professor of healthcare administration at Park University, told the news outlet. 

Even if the money has no influence on rankings, perception is everything and can raise doubts among the public, Discenza said. When it comes to rankings to help chose a provider, she recommends researching more than one source, as each rating system uses different methodologies and standards.

Prior to the publication updating the methodology it uses to rank hospitals, U.S. News editor Ben Harder previously said the publication used "objective, primarily Medicare-derived quality measures such as mortality, volume and patient safety indicators to calculate 67.5 percent of each hospital's rank-determining score in the four specialties analyzed," FierceHealthcare previously reported, after a research study criticized U.S. News' outsized emphasis on hospital reputations in its previous methodology.

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