Mount Sinai-Hosted U.S. News & World Report Hospital Rankings Summit: Shaping Healthcare Decisions

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First-Ever National Summit on Hospital Rankings Demonstrates Impact and Explores Possibilities for Change.
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Statement from Leadership


U.S. News & World Report Hospital Rankings Summit 2012

For the first time ever, leaders from the nation’s top hospitals and U.S. News & World Report came together with top editors from U.S. News & World Report to discuss  the methodology behind U.S. News' annual "Best Hospitals" rankings and their value to consumers and the institutions they evaluate.   Hospital leaders agreed that its annual “Best Hospitals” list is among the most comprehensive and useful available.  The distinguished group also explored a broad range of ways in which the methodologies could continue to be improved.  Possible improvements that were discussed include risk adjustment for socioeconomic factors and projected health outcomes, measurement of scientific and medical innovation, clinical trial participation, investment in and use of cutting-edge information such as genomics, and overall patient experience.

The summit featured three panel sessions, "What's in it for the Consumer?", "When Doctors' Votes Count: The U.S. News Rankings and the Case for (and Against) Reputation," and "The Business of Rankings: Separating Spin from Substance." Moderated by U.S. News Editor and Chief Content Officer Brian Kelly, the discussions among hospital executives brought forth vibrant insights about how current rankings assess quality, what quantifiable data could be added to complement reputational criteria, and how the rankings can be expanded to include advances in technology and genomics, as well as varying socioeconomic health care needs.

"There is no doubt hospitals adjust their processes based on these rankings," Philip O. Ozuah, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Montefiore Medical Center revealed. "It certainly changes their behaviors."

Avery Comarow, Health Rankings Editor of U.S. News & World Report explained, "Whether or not patients change their behavior [based on rankings], hospitals do because this is to some degree a perception problem – hospitals perceive that they're being seen or displayed in a negative way…so they feel that they have to respond. So there is a weird mix of factors going on here, and it's been an education for us to recognize that. But it really doesn't matter whether patients drive the changes or the perception drives the changes – things are better for patients…and they benefit from the positive outcomes."

Some hospital specialties are graded solely on reputation, meaning the rankings depend on other physicians' evaluations of them – without actual quantitative health data. Peter L. Slavin, MD, President of Massachusetts General Hospital, was among the leaders advocating for change in the current methodology for those specialties.  

"Reputation-only specialties require meetings, publications, research and all the things that go into the art of medicine," Slavin remarked. "This allows you to have a reputation – a small amount is marketing, but a huge amount is participation – and that can lead to quantitative measures that should be included."
Overall the consensus was that U.S. News & World Report has strongly and profoundly defined the healthcare system, but that opportunities for improvements exist.

"We use this data as metrics to improve our hospital in order to get better," Meri Armour, President and Chief Executive Office of Le Bonheur Children's Hospital commented. "What we are doing is improving our processes and outcomes and the information we provide to parents. I aspire to be on the Honor Roll and to meet these measurements. If you play, you do get better and you identify for the rest of the country opportunities for the system to get better. I realize measures are complicated, but they define how we get where we want to be, so we can be better than we ever could have possibly thought."

Panelist Participants

Summit panel participants included:

  • Meri Armour, President and Chief Executive Officer, Le Bonheur Children's Hospital (Memphis, TN)
  • Vinita Bahl, DMD, MPP, Director of Clinical Information and Decision Support Services, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Steven J. Corwin, MD, Chief Executive Officer, New York-Presbyterian Hospital (New York, NY)
  • Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center (New York, NY)
  • Timothy J. Gardner, MD, Medical Director, Center for Heart & Vascular Health, Christiana Care Health System (Wilmington, DE)
  • Brent C. James, MD, MStat, Chief Quality Officer and Executive Director, Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Bradley J. Narr, MD, Chair, Department of Anesthesiology and Chair, Surgical and Procedural Committee, Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN)
  • Sharon O'Keefe, President, University of Chicago Medical Center (Chicago, IL)
  • Philip O. Ozuah, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Montefiore Medical Center (Bronx, NY)
  • Peter L. Slavin, MD, President, Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, MA)

The summit marks the first time U.S. News editors have discussed their hospital ranking system in a public forum with leaders of institutions being ranked.  As a next step, editors at U.S. News will consider recommendations as part of their ongoing approach to enhance the "Best Hospitals" methodology.

View summit agenda

Summit Welcome: Inside the Best Hospitals' Rankings

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Session 1: What's in it for the Consumers?

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Session 2: When Doctors' Votes Count

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Session 3: The Business of Rankings

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