Reputation still important to make the best-hospital list

U.S. News & World Report yesterday released its annual "best-of" list, shifting the scoring system by adjusting how the hospital's reputation affects its ranking.

In discussing how the magazine picked the best hospitals out of the 4,793 for the 23rd year, U.S. News & World Report noted that it changed its methodology.

"While reputation continues to play an important role in the Best Hospitals rankings, clinical data such as patient outcomes and processes of care have become central, according to a blog post. "We moved away from relying on reputation alone in 1993, adding mortality, nurse staffing and other hard measures with a direct link to the quality of patient care."

Reputation still makes up 32.5 percent of the score, while survival scores amount to 32.5 percent, patient safety amounts to 5 percent and other care indicators make up 30 percent, according to another blog post.

Arguably, reputation is the most controversial factor because it may be less subjective than other quality measures.

Hospitals in the four specialties--ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation and rheumatology--are ranked solely on their reputation among specialists, the magazine noted. Because these specialties are largely based on outpatient services, death rates "mean little" in determining high-performing hospitals by specialties, according to U.S. News & World Report.

However, the magazine gives more weight to objective governmental data on quality measures, such as mortality rates, patient volume and nurse staffing.

"The change to reputation, coupled with the other methodology improvements made this year, contributed to some significant shifts in the upcoming rankings," U.S. News & World Report said.

Notably, Johns Hopkins fell from its number one spot--a title it held for 21 years--with Massachusetts General Hospital taking the lead, HealthLeaders Media noted.

For more information:
- see the U.S. News & World Report best hospital list and honor roll list
- read the methodology for best hospital ranking and the methodology for best regional hospitals
- here's the HealthLeaders Media article

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