U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday announced its 25th annual list of "America's Best Hospitals," with the Mayo Clinic earning the top spot for the first time.
For this year's list, U.S. News evaluated 4,743 hospitals across 16 medical specialties and identified 144 hospital and health systems that earned high enough scores to be included in the rankings.
Twelve of the specialty rankings were largely data-driven and included mortality rates, nurse-patient ratios, and procedure volume, among other measures. Those 12 specialty rankings also considered a reputational survey of specialists.
Meanwhile, U.S. News ranked the remaining four specialties—ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation, and rheumatology—based only on a reputational survey of specialists.
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To qualify for this year's 12 data-driven lists, hospitals had to meet at least one of four criteria: be a teaching hospital, be affiliated with a medical school, have at least 200 beds, or have at least 100 beds and offer four or more types of medical technology, such as PET/CT scans and precision radiation therapies. In addition, hospitals had to meet a volume requirement that included a minimum number of Medicare inpatient discharges for certain procedures and conditions between 2009 and 2011, or hospitals had to have received nominations from at least 1% of specialists responding to U.S. News surveys conducted between 2011 and 2014.
The 1,907 hospitals that met these requirements in at least one specialty then received a score between 0 and 100 based on four factors:
- Mortality rate (32.5% of the score);
- Care-related factors such as nursing and patient services (30%);
- Reputation (27.5%); and
- Patient safety (10%).
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For the reputation-based rankings, U.S. News asked physicians in each specialty to list hospitals they consider among the best in their field for difficult cases. Hospitals cited by at least 5% of surveyed physicians in a specialty were included in its rankings.
"Our objective is to provide health care consumers with a decision-support tool, but certainly not to make a decision for them," U.S. News' managing editor of health care analysis Ben Harder told the Baltimore Sun, adding "One hospital may rank higher in a particular specialty than another, but the latter hospital might be better at treating a particular diagnosis or a specific subgroup of patients. So patients should use our rankings as a starting point, not an end point, in their choice of hospital."
U.S. News also assembled an "Honor Roll" recognizing 17 facilities that achieved high scores in six or more specialties. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UPMC tied for twelfth. The Honor Roll institutions, ranked from one to 17, are:
1. Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota)
2. Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
3. Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore, Maryland)
4. Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, Ohio)
5. UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, California)
6. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell (New York, New York)
7. Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
8. UCSF Medical Center (San Francisco, California)
9. Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts)
10. Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago, Illinois)
11. University of Washington Medical Center (Seattle, Washington)
12. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles)
12. UPMC (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
14. Duke University Hospital (Durham, North Carolina)
15. NYU Langone Medical Center (New York)
16. Mount Sinai Hospital (New York)
17. Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)
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By taking the top spot in the new rankings, Minnesota powerhouse Mayo Clinic unseated last year's number one hospital—Johns Hopkins—a facility that had also enjoyed a 21-year streak in the top spot from 1991 to 2012.
Reacting to the shift, Harvard health policy professor Ashish Jha jokingly told the Baltimore Sun "What a disaster!" before adding "Just kidding. While these rankings are interesting, the bottom line is that Hopkins remains one of the very best hospitals in the world. I am unaware of anything meaningful that has changed."
Meanwhile Mayo president and CEO John Noseworthy said in a statement "We have a deep commitment to delivering high-value health care that best meets patients' needs. We owe our success to truly dedicated staff."
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He added "These endorsements reinforce our 150-year commitment to provide the highest quality care to each patient… [but while] no single set of measures can perfectly represent health care quality, we are proud to be recognized by so many. We are honored by this recognition, and we remain focused on our primary mission: putting the needs of our patients first and creating for them the best possible, most trusted and affordable model of health care for the future" (Leonard, U.S. News, 7/15; Cohn, Baltimore Sun, 7/15; Gantz, Baltimore Business Journal, 7/15; Mayo Clinic statement, 7/15).
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