U.S. News to tweak hospital-ranking methodology

U.S. News & World Report will change several aspects of its hospital rankings methodology, according to a post on its Second Opinions blog.

One of the most significant changes will involve patient safety, according to the post. In 12 specialties, patient safety will now count for 10 percent of a hospital's overall score, compared to 5 percent under the old methodology. The new methodology will also reduce the weight of hospital reputations, from 32.5 percent to 27.5 percent.

U.S. News will also tweak the formula used to calculate hospitals' Patient Safety Scores. Under the current system, these scores fell under either "high," "moderate" or "low," and hospitals that scored between the 25th and 27th percentiles were treated the same and rated as moderate. The next rankings will calculate the safety score as a continuous variable, which may improve the rankings of hospitals scoring on the high end of moderate while diminishing that of those on the low end, the post states.

In addition, despite the decreased weight given to hospital reputations, U.S. News will add more diverse voices within the healthcare field to the ranking process.

"In the past, we have annually mailed and e-mailed Best Hospitals surveys to 200 board-certified specialists in each of the 16 adult specialties that U.S. News evaluates," the post states. "We will do the same this year, but in addition we will survey approximately 50,000 other board-certified physicians through a collaboration with Doximity, a professional network for doctors."

These responses will be statistically weighted in proportion to the national physician population, according to the blog post.

A Comparion Medical Analytics study last May highlighted several perceived flaws in the criteria used for U.S. News' rankings, arguing that the reputation measure was overly subjective and that surveys using other, more objective measures produced entirely different rankings, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the post

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