US News won't rank honor roll hospitals

Just over a week after U.S. News & World Report shared seven "refinements" to its 2023-2024 Best Hospitals ranking methodology, it has announced another change to the rankings' format. 

The publication will no longer attribute ordinal rankings to its honor roll hospitals, it said in a July 11 letter addressed to hospital leaders. 

"In analyzing how consumers navigate our website and listening to feedback from healthcare organizations and professionals, we know that patients care most about finding the highest quality care in their region in the specialty, procedure or condition where they have a need," the letter said. "While we continue to value the usefulness of the Honor Roll in identifying broad clinical excellence, we also believe that the current format obscures the fact that all of the Honor Roll hospitals have attained the highest standard of care in the nation."

Ordinal rankings will still be listed for the 15 specialties U.S. News gauges, as well as the regions where it publishes. 

U.S. News has come under national scrutiny in the past year; numerous law schools refused to submit data for their rankings in November, and medical schools followed suit through the winter. 

But criticism of the hospital rankings — often touted by hospitals' marketing departments —  is more recent. Bethlehem, Pa.-based St. Luke's University Health Network and Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine's University of Pennsylvania Health System both pulled away this summer and David Chiu, San Francisco's city attorney, questions the rankings' authority and methodology.

Patrick Brennan, MD, Penn Medicine's chief medical officer, alleged the ranking system incentivizes health systems to compete and expend resources in hopes of improving their position. U.S. News says it is taking these positions into account as it adjusts for the future.

"As always, we remain receptive to feedback from patients, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders regarding how we can best fulfill our mission of helping consumers make important decisions," the publication said. 

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