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Hospital Rankings: The More, the Murkier

Tinker Ready, for HealthLeaders Media, May 1, 2014

Once the stuff of health policy journals, hospital rankings based on public data are easily accessible to providers, payers, and patients. Therein lies the problem.

Cheryl Clark is on vacation.

When the corporate heavyweights at the Business Roundtable launched the Leapfrog Group 14 years ago, Medicare's Hospital Compare site didn't exist. Consumer Reports rated the quality of television sets, not health systems.

Over the years, the hospital ranking field has grown crowded. Today, healthcare providers, payers, and consumers can take their pick of hospital rankings. Even social media sites such as Yelp offer reviews, making it possible to find a hospital and the best place to get kung pao chicken from a single source.

Once the stuff of health policy journals, findings based on public data are easily accessible to online audiences unfamiliar with terms like percutaneous coronary intervention or risk adjustment. Search "hospital quality" in the iTunes App store and 12 results pop up, starting with the Leapfrog Group's "Hospital Safety Score," which was updated Tuesday.


Hospital Groups Strike Back at Hospital Rating Systems


With so many choices, the question emerges: Whose measures have the most credibility? Do consumers look for the Leapfrog "Top Hospital" seal or US News and World Report's "Best Hospital" banner?

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