July 19, 2017

Why US News & World Report just delayed their annual hospital rankings

Daily Briefing

    U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday announced it is delaying the release of its annual list of best hospitals from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8 after the publication discovered errors in the data used to calculate the rankings.

    The changing physician workforce

    While the list was not scheduled to go public until Aug. 1, the release states that hospitals have already received an embargoed version of the list.

    Background

    According to Ross, U.S. News bases the annual list on a physician survey, as well as patient outcome and safety data hospitals self-report to various government entities and trade organizations. The publication uses the data to rank hospitals by procedures, 12 specialty areas, and region.

    This year, the publication revised its methodology to incorporate the socioeconomic status of a hospital's patient population, as well as other factors that could influence a hospital's ranking on the list.

    Details on delay

    However, U.S. News said it is postponing the list because of errors related to the 12 data-driven specialties it assesses.

    An email sent by U.S. News' editor Brian Kelly and chief of health analysis Ben Harder to participating hospitals and obtained by STAT News reads, "While these changes ... allow us to better assess hospital care, they are complex to implement and we discovered errors late in the process." The email continued, "We are confident that once correctly implemented these changes will benefit our shared goal of providing patients with better information about their health care."

    The email said the errors require a full review of the rankings. "Ensuring the accuracy of the information we release to the public is of the utmost importance," a U.S. News spokesperson said. 

    According to the email, the embargoed rankings will be removed from a shared online dashboard where hospitals can access them. The email said the hospitals will receive an update by midweek (Ross, STAT News, 7/17; Rege, Becker's Hospital Review, 7/18; U.S. News release, 7/17).

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