Do You Care About Hospital Rankings?

August 28, 2019

Not long after US News & World Report released its annual ranking of top hospitals in the country, a multi-institutional team of healthcare quality researchers published its own scorecard of hospital rating systems in NEJM Catalyst. The researchers graded US News & World Report, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Star Ratings, Leapfrog, and Healthgrades on their methodologies, and gave them grades ranging from B to D+.

The authors describe improvements they think the rating systems need, such as developing better data sources than Medicare claims, incorporating patient-reported and long-term outcomes, auditing hospital-reported data, and subjecting their methods to peer review.

The researchers conclude: "These rating systems should be interpreted very cautiously, as most seem likely to misclassify hospital performance and may mislead patients, referring doctors, payers, purchasers, and hospitals themselves."

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