Viewpoint: Hospital rankings should measure health equity progress

Robust health equity metrics are essential to mainstream hospital ranking systems amid pledges by facilities to promote and practice equity, Boston hospital leaders argue in a blog post published March 19 in Health Affairs.  

One ranking system is U.S. News and World Report's Best Hospitals and Best Children's Hospitals lists each year. The rankings are based on measures including risk-adjusted survival and discharge-to-home rates, volume and quality of nursing. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. News has looked at the issue of health equity by analyzing Medicare records to gain insights about racial disparities in surgical care access and hosted a webinar in January on measuring equity. The Bloomberg American Health Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity have also partnered with IBM/Watson Health to develop health equity metrics, to potentially include in the Fortune/IBM Watson Health Top 100 Hospitals Program. A proposal was finalized in February. 

Authors of the blog post praised ranking systems' efforts in this area but said they are not sufficient.

"We want real change for our patients, our staff and our communities. As healthcare providers, we are motivated to do the hard work," they wrote. "But if hospitals and health systems commit to promoting and practicing equity, we must also be judged on our success in achieving equity."

Authors of the blog post are:

  • Katherine Peeler, MD, director of diversity, equity and inclusion of medical critical care at Boston Children's Hospital
  • Crandall Peeler, MD, director of neuro-ophthalmology, director of ophthalmic triage and consult service, and associate residency program director for ophthalmology at Boston Medical Center
  • Joseph Betancourt, MD, senior vice president of equity and community health at Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Jose Figueroa, MD, assistant professor of health policy and management at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Thea James, MD, vice president of mission and associate chief medical officer at Boston Medical Center
  • Valerie Ward, MD, chief equity and inclusion officer at Boston Children's Hospital
  • Grace Chan, MD, PhD, attending physician in the division of medical critical care at Boston Children's Hospital

The blog post is available here


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