And hold on for a shocker: The increase in awards is partially due to the fact that many of the awarding organizations are making a profit on the distinctions.
Healthgrades, U.S. News & World Report, and Leapfrog (a non-profit organization) encourage hospitals to promote the quality awards they have bestowed upon them and then charge licensing fees to hospitals that want to advertise their ranking.
According to an official at NYU Langone Medical Center, Healthgrades would have charged it $145,000 to use its logo on their website. U.S. News asked for upwards of $50,000 and Leapfrog $5,000 for hospitals with fewer than 300 beds and $12,500 for larger facilities. Leapfrog says it only charges to ensure that hospitals aren't misusing or misreporting their scores.
Consumer Reports bars hospitals from using its ratings in marketing, but patients must subscribe to read them online. The Joint Commission does not charge hospitals that make its top quality list.