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November 1, 2021

The top hospitals across 17 specialties, according to Healthgrades

Daily Briefing

    Healthgrades on Oct. 19 released its 2022 analysis of the top hospitals in the United States, which evaluated the performance of almost 4,500 hospitals and assessed clinical outcomes for 33 procedures and conditions across 17 specialty areas.

    Cheat sheets: How hospital quality ratings work

    Specialty Excellence Awards

    For the analysis, called the 2022 Specialty Excellence Awards, Healthgrades evaluated U.S. hospitals' performance and assessed the clinical outcomes of 33 procedures and conditions across 17 specialty areas, including:

    • Bariatric surgery;
    • Cardiac care;
    • Cardiac surgery;
    • Coronary intervention;
    • Cranial neurosurgery;
    • Critical care;
    • Gastrointestinal care;
    • Gastrointestinal surgery;
    • Joint replacement;
    • Neurosciences;
    • Orthopedic surgery;
    • Prostate surgery;
    • Pulmonary care;
    • Spine surgery;
    • Stroke care;
    • Surgical care; and
    • Vascular surgery.

    Using statistical analysis, Healthgrades evaluated each hospital's performance for clinical outcomes across each of the 33 procedures and conditions considered. Hospitals were then awarded between one and five stars to signify their performance. According to Healthgrades, hospitals that received:

    • One star performed "worse than expected," meaning their "[a]ctual performance was worse than predicted and the difference was statistically significant[.]"
    • Three stars performed "as expected," meaning their "[a]ctual performance was not statistically different from what was predicted[.]"
    • Five stars performed "better than expected," meaning their "[a]ctual performance was better than predicted and the difference was statistically significant[.]"

    Overall, according to Healthgrades' methodology, the top 5% or 10% "within each specialty are recognized as Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Award recipients." Then, in 11 specialty care areas, Healthgrades recognized Specialty Excellence Award recipient hospitals that "stand out as America's 100 Best Hospitals for Specialty Care." For three other specialty areas—cardiac surgery, surgical care, and vascular surgery—Healthgrades "spotlight[s] recipients among America's 50 Best Hospitals for Specialty Care." 

    According to Healthgrades' methodology, the ratings and analysis did not evaluate hospital reputation, financial information, perception, or predicted performance—and excluded Covid-19 patients from consideration. Hospitals were not allowed to opt in or out of the analysis.

    To access the list of Specialty Excellence Award recipients and see whether your hospital was among them, click here.

    Key insights

    Healthgrades with its quality rankings also released The 2022 Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Report: The Continuing Importance of Quality, which provides an in-depth analysis of the specialty award data to examine how Americans can use the information to find quality care.

    According to the report, if all hospitals performed at the same level as the hospitals awarded five-star ratings, 218,141 deaths could potentially have been avoided, along with 156,050 patients with health complications.

    For example, Healthgrades determined that patients treated for a heart attack in hospitals with a one-star rating for in-hospital mortality were twice as likely to die compared with patients treated in hospitals with a five-star rating for in-hospital mortality. According to FierceHealthcare, the analysis also showed that patients in hospitals with one-star ratings face a 74% higher risk of complications from knee replacement surgery than those at a five-star rated hospital.

    The report also included data Healthgrades has been collecting each week since the start of the pandemic assessing consumer attitudes toward care each week. Based on that data, Healthgrades said consumers value quality health care now more than ever. In fact, 60% of individuals tracked said finding a better-quality hospital was more important to them now than it was before the pandemic—and quality measured higher than factors such as distance and insurance coverage. 

    "Quality is no longer the sole responsibility of hospitals and providers," Healthgrades stated in its report. "Patients are doing their part, too; actively looking for more information on hospital and provider quality and putting a premium on quality of care in their health care decisions."

    According to Healthgrades President Brad Graner, "Many people don't realize that there is significant variation in quality among hospitals. Healthgrades is leading the way to make hospital quality information transparent and accessible so that all Americans can make the most informed decision about where they receive care." (Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Awards & America's Best Hospitals for Specialty Care Awards 2022 Methodology, accessed 10/29; Gliadkovskaya, Fierce Healthcare, 10/20; Healthgrades Hospital Quality Awards & Ratings, accessed 10/29; Healthgrades press release, 10/19; Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Awards list, accessed 10/29; Gooch, Becker's Hospital Review, 10/25)

    Cheat sheets: How hospital quality ratings work


    Download our newly updated cheat sheets for easy-to-read summaries of some of the most widely promoted hospital rating programs, including:

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