Patients now have a new research tool to help them decide which healthcare facility they’d like to choose for five high-volume surgical procedures and/or common medical conditions. After rating hospitals and medical centers for 25 years, U.S. News & World Report has expanded its analysis of hospital quality with new Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings. The new ratings cover almost every U.S. hospital and evaluate each one in five common surgical procedures and medical conditions that account for millions of hospitalizations a year.
The new U.S. News hospital ratings will help patients easily identify hospitals that excel in treating common conditions, such as heart bypass, hip replacement and knee replacement, and two widespread chronic conditions – congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. Patients can look up any U.S. hospital at no cost at usnews.com to see whether the facility is "High Performing," "Average" or "Below Average."
"The choice of hospital can be life-changing even for relatively routine surgery. Hospitals can differ greatly in quality, and excelling in one area doesn't guarantee that a hospital excels in other areas," says Ben Harder, chief of health analysis for U.S. News. "The good news for patients is that the majority of hospitals performed average or better."
The new ratings offer some startling insights that could have a definite impact on hospitals, patients and clinicians. For example, more than 1,700 hospitals treated too few patients to be rated in certain procedures or conditions. And, patients treated for those conditions in these very-low-volume hospitals experienced significantly worse outcomes than similar patients treated elsewhere. Mortality among hip patients undergoing surgery at unrated hospitals was more than 60 percent higher than among patients at hospitals that had been rated for all procedures and conditions. Being armed with this information can help a patient make a different choice when it comes to selecting the facility where they’ll have their surgery.
While more than 700 hospitals were rated High Performing in at least one procedure or condition, more than 700 hospitals were rated Below Average in one or more procedures or conditions. Only 34 hospitals overall were rated High Performing in all 5 categories. A Below Average rating was associated with a mortality rate that is about twice the national average.
To arrive at a facility’s rating, U.S. News evaluated each hospital for more than 25 quality measures – including mortality, readmissions, infections and patient satisfaction scores. The rating also take into account more than five million patient records, including health conditions, age, sex, socioeconomic status and other factors that affect risk.
"It's important for patients, in consultation with their doctors, to be able to research a hospital and know the hospital has treated a sufficient number of patients like them," says Harder. "Our Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings give patients access to more information and help them make more-informed choices among the hospitals in their communities."
Patients, hospitals and clinicians can pre-order the "Best Hospitals 2016" guidebook, which hits newsstands September 1, 2015. Visit usnews.com for more information.
Are you curious to find out how your facility rates in these five major common care categories? What impact do you think your facility’s rating will have on the community and the staff? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.