Internet users must dig to find that information, however. Otherwise, the data is simply presented as averages for best practices/core measures, clinical outcomes, patient safety, and patient satisfaction. The website uses four symbols to indicate whether it ranked in the top 25% of academic medical centers, top 10%, average, or bottom 25%.
This methodology seems both too simple, and too complicated for the average consumer to understand. How can you take the average of a quality measure across six data sources and drill it down to four quality-representing symbols? Aside from it being iffy quality reporting, it doesn't make sense from a marketing perspective.
After a bit more digging, I discovered that UT Southwestern is not alone in these murky quality marketing waters, and the blame doesn't fall completely on hospitals.
The number of organizations ranking hospitals based on quality has proliferated in recent years, to the point that a high ranking is losing its value in the eyes of the public.
In fact, one-third of US hospitals—more than 1,600—won at least one distinction from a major rating group or company, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis. In the greater Fort Lauderdale hospital market, 21 of 24 hospitals were singled out as exemplary by at least one rating source. In the Baltimore region, 19 out of 22 hospitals won an award.