Why hospital rankings like US News probably aren't going away

While some health systems have soured on rankings systems such as U.S. News & World Report, many patients still rely on them for finding healthcare, USA Today reported July 12.

Experts told the news outlet there aren't a lot of better alternatives for consumers to research care quality and safety.

"The industry doesn't put out anything more accurate and doesn't put out anything more useful or more timely," Michael Millenson, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told the newspaper. Hospital rankings "are not perfect — sometimes they mislead and we have to ask questions — but it's the best we have."

He added that hospitals could provide better data on their websites if they aren't happy with the rankings.

Health systems such as Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine and Bethlehem, Pa.-based St. Luke's University Health Network have said recently they would stop participating with U.S. News for its annual hospital rankings over their methodology, and the publication has since made changes to the system. But experts contend that these rankings can also lead to improvements.

"Hospitals have said to me, 'I don’t like the grade I get but when I get that survey, it points out areas of improvement for us that we haven't thought of or paid attention to and now we're investing in these things,'" Martin Hatlie, president and CEO of the Project Patient Care nonprofit and an expert panelist for Leapfrog, which publishes hospital safety rankings, told USA Today.

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