This year, the way hospitals are ranked is undergoing some important changes. The rankings, known as the Best Hospitals and Best Children’s Hospitals, will be published in the summer, and they will be different from previous years. The goal of these changes is to make the rankings more accurate and fair, and this involves giving more weight to certain objective measures of quality and less importance to a survey of physicians’ opinions conducted by U.S. News & World Report.
To make these changes, the people in charge of the rankings, including hospital leaders and medical experts in various specialties, had discussions with many stakeholders. While it is true that patients often consider a hospital’s reputation when choosing where to receive medical care, experts agreed that using more objective data is better for determining the hospital rankings.
So, what exactly are these changes? Well, in the 11 adult specialty rankings, outcomes derived from federal data will be given 45% weight this year, an increase from 37.5% last year. Additionally, in Rehabilitation, outcomes will count for 30%, up from 20% last year. Another important factor in determining quality is the availability of key patient services, and this will account for 35% in all 12 adult specialties.
As for expert opinions, they will play a smaller role in the rankings. In four adult specialty rankings, including Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Pulmonology & Lung Surgery, the weight assigned to expert opinions will be reduced to 12% from around 25%. In seven other specialties, like Cancer, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Orthopedics, and Urology, the weight of expert opinion will be reduced to 15% from 27.5%. In Rehabilitation, expert opinion will have a 30% weight, a significant reduction from the previous 50%. It’s interesting to note that until 2021, the Rehabilitation rankings were determined solely by a survey of physicians.
The changes don’t stop there; they also affect pediatric specialty rankings. Best practices will have a weight of 12% this year, an increase from 9.17% last year, and diversity, equity, and inclusion will receive greater weight as well, going from 2.0% to 2.33%. On the other hand, the weight of expert opinion in Pediatric Cardiology & Heart Surgery will decrease to 5% from 8%, and in all other pediatric specialties, it will be reduced to 10% from 13%.
It’s important to note that expert opinion has never been a factor in the rankings for Best Hospitals for Maternity Care nor in the 20 Procedures & Conditions ratings that U.S. News publishes. Therefore, these specific rankings will remain unchanged.
Another significant aspect to consider is health equity measures. U.S. News had introduced measures related to health equity in their rankings in the past, but after receiving feedback from various hospital leaders, clinicians, researchers, and stakeholders, they decided to refine how they assess hospital performance in health equity. As they work on these improvements, the health equity measures will not be used in the adult Best Hospitals rankings published on August 1, 2023.
Overall, these changes aim to create a more reliable and transparent hospital ranking system. By using more objective data and reducing the reliance on subjective opinions, the rankings hope to better reflect the actual quality of healthcare provided by the hospitals and help patients make informed decisions about their medical care.