Revolution now!...for hospital ratings

Yesterday, the Leapfrog Group announced its customary list of top hospitals, all of which, no doubt, are fine institutions. That's, uh, really exciting...sort of. After all, other top hospital lists, ranging from those drawn on CMS data to those focusing on consumer-friendly issues like patient satisfaction, certainly name some fine institutions as well.

Still, I wonder, just when will we stop being distracted by all of this stuff?

For heaven's sake, it's more than time to stop the proliferation of "best hospital" lists and get down to a more serious effort to determine how benchmarks should be established in the hospital world. OK, correction,--it's time to convince those outside of the hospital world to find a way to work more closely with hospitals in finding and reproducing best practices.

In my experience, hospitals are aware of ratings by folks like Leapfrog, but when push comes to shove, they have to put Joint Commission standards front and center, followed closely by whatever issues CMS has picked as most critical in protecting patients and complying with billing protocols. If someone then pats them on the back and says hey, U.S. News & World Report loves you, they say, "that's nice" and move on.

I don't know about you, but I'd much rather see the money Leapfrog spends making its determinations go into deeper research on process improvement, infection control, public health research and financing solutions for indigent care. I don't think there's long-lasting value in pitting hospitals against each other in this particular way, unless you work in the hospital PR department.

But I'm going off on a rant here. What do you think? Are "top" lists useful to the healthcare industry, or just a sideshow? - Anne