U.S. News and World Report on Tuesday released their latest “Best Hospital” rankings for the 34th consecutive year amid criticism from schools and public officials, and recent changes to their rating system.
The report ranks 484 regional hospitals, evaluating them on 30 medical and surgical services. Of those facilities, 22 hospitals were named to the national “Honor Roll.” This year, the outlet decided to scrap ordinal rankings in favor of an “Honor Roll” in no particular order.
The change came after recent user surveys found a growing need to highlight ratings based on specialties, conditions, procedures and region instead of national rankings, “because in most cases patients should consider a provider near where they live,” said Ben Harder, U.S. News chief analyst and managing editor.
“This decision has been several years in the making, and under purposeful internal discussion for several months,” he said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Many of the usual suspects made this year’s honor roll, including last year’s top five hospitals: Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; NYU Langone Hospitals; Cleveland Clinic; and Johns Hopkins Hospital.
However, three new facilities also joined this year’s honor roll:
North Shore University Hospital at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York
UC San Diego Health – LaJolla and Hillcrest Hospitals in San Diego
UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas
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The hospital rankings emerge amid a national conversation debating the value, transparency and methodology of such rating systems.
In June, the San Francisco city attorney’s office announced it was launching an investigation into U.S. News, alleging the outlet was fraught with bias, questionable methodology and undisclosed financing.
Not long after, the University of Pennsylvania Health System declared it was no longer actively participating in the annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” rankings, underscoring the need for greater transparency.
Although U.S. News later announced changes to its methodology in July, emphasizing health equity and outpatient outcomes, University of Pennsylvania Health System CEO Kevin Mahoney was not assuaged.
“Overall, rankings systems are an oversimplified, dated way to measure 21st century health care,” he said in a statement sent to USA TODAY.
While far from perfect, hospital rankings are one of the only sources of up-to-date data that patients have to compare hospitals in a comprehensible and transparent way, Michael Millenson, an expert on quality care and patient safety, said in a July interview.
Hospital rankings “are not perfect – sometimes they mislead and we have to ask questions – but it’s the best we have,” he said.
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US News hospital rankings: Report details best hospitals in the US