US News names Best Hospitals: 6 things to know

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reclaimed the top spot on the Honor Roll for 2015-16, and there is a tie for No. 3.

U.S. News & World Report has released its 2015-16 Best Hospital rankings, the 26th edition of its annual rankings. The following are six things to know about this year's rankings, including which organizations made the Honor Roll and landed in top spots for three major specialties.

1. Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston reclaimed the top spot on the Honor Roll this year, which is comprised of hospitals ranking at or near the top in six or more specialties. Mass General was No. 2 on last year's Honor Roll.

2. Just 15 hospitals qualified for the Honor Roll this year by ranking at or near the top in six or more specialties. That's down from 17 in 2014-15's rankings. They are as follows, in rank order:

1.   Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston)
2.   Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.)
3.   Johns Hopkins Hospital (Baltimore) tie
3.   UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles) tie
5.   Cleveland Clinic
6.   Brigham and Women's Hospital (Boston)
7.   NewYork-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell (New York City)
8.   UCSF Medical Center (San Francisco)
9.   Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania-Penn Presbyterian (Philadelphia)
10. Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University (St. Louis)
11. Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago)
12. NYU Langone Medical Center (New York City)
13. UPMC (Pittsburgh)
14. Duke University Hospital (Durham, N.C.)
15. Stanford (Calif.) Hospital

3. U.S. News also ranks hospitals nationally in individual specialties. The following are the top three hospitals in three high-profile specialties.

Cancer care
1. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston)
2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York City)
3. Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.)

Cardiology & heart surgery
1. Cleveland Clinic
2. Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.)
3. NewYork-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell (New York City)

1. Hospital for Special Surgery (New York City)
2. Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.)
3. Cleveland Clinic

4. This year, 137 hospitals performed well enough in complex care to be nationally ranked in one of 16 specialties. Rankings for 12 of the specialties (cancer; cardiology & heart surgery; diabetes & endocrinology; ear, nose & throat; gastroenterology & GI surgery; geriatrics; gynecology; nephrology; neurology & neurology; orthopedics; pulmonology; and urology) are based on reputation, patient survival, patient safety and care-related factors. The remaining four specialties (ophthalmology, psychiatry, rehabilitation and rheumatology) are based on reputation alone, pulled from the three latest annual physician surveys.

5. U.S. News also selected 520 Best Regional Hospitals, based on their prowess in either their state or metro area. This year, Best Regional Hospitals were identified based on performance in both complex care and common care, like hip and knee replace surgeries, heart bypass surgeries, heart failure and COPD.

6. U.S. News made two changes to its methodology this year. One was to drop one of the eight elements that had made up the patient safety component of a hospital’s score in 2014-15. RTI International, U.S. News's longstanding Best Hospitals contractor, found that the incidence of postoperative hip fractures was too low to yield reliable data.

The other significant change was to further expand the physician survey. Prior to 2014, a total of 3,200 specialists (200 in each of the 16 Best Hospitals specialties) were randomly sampled each year, representing a total three-year sample of 9,600. For 2014, the random sample was supplemented by a survey of nearly 50,000 members of Doximity, the largest online professional network of U.S. physicians, yielding a three-year total of about 60,000 physicians.

Access the full rankings and methodology here.

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