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U.S. News to Overhaul Measures for Annual ‘Best Regional Hospital’ Rankings

Specialty hospitals are out

U.S. News & World Report will revamp the methods it uses to compare hospitals for its annual Best Regional Hospital report. The new measures will limit eligibility to general acute care hospitals; factor in its new Common Care ratings; consider 12 of the 16 Best Hospital complex-care specialties; and create stricter criteria for hospitals to be considered “high performing” in the 12 data-driven specialties.

The publication also said that if a hospital is “high performing” or nationally ranked but does not meet the new criteria, it will not be recognized as a Best Regional Hospital.

In the future, only hospitals that deliver a wide range of clinical services will be candidates for recognition as Best Regional Hospitals, U.S. News said. Specialty hospitals, including surgical hospitals, cancer hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and other specialized facilities, will be ineligible, even if they are nationally ranked or rated as “high performing” in one or more specialties, procedures, or common conditions.

A general acute-care hospital will be recognized as a Best Regional Hospital if it received a rating in Best Hospitals for Common Care of “high performing” in two or more of the five areas for which U.S. News published ratings in May 2015. These areas of care are hip replacement, knee replacement, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Further, U.S. News will recognize a general acute-care hospital as a Best Regional Hospital if in one or more of the 12 data-driven Best Hospitals specialties it is either ranked among the top 50 nationally or rated “high performing” for 2015–2016. The Best Hospitals specialty rankings identify hospitals that excel in treating the most complex and challenging cases. The 12 data-driven rankings cover cancer; cardiology and heart surgery; diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose, and throat; gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery; geriatrics; gynecology; nephrology; neurology and neurosurgery; orthopedics; pulmonology; and urology.

U.S. News previously rated a hospital as “high performing” in a data-driven complex-care specialty if it was not ranked (not in the top 50) but scored high enough to be in the top quartile of all hospitals that received scores. Beginning July 21, only hospitals in the top decile in those specialties will be recognized as high performing.

U.S. News rankings and high-performing ratings in the four reputation-only specialties of ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation, and rheumatology ​​​​will no longer be considered in determining the Best Regional Hospitals rankings. These specialties are important, the publication said, but the lack of objective performance measures provides less information than is available for the data-driven specialties.

Sources: FierceHealthcare; June 15, 2015; and U.S. News and World Report; June 12, 2015.


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