Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you are aware that U.S. News & World Report has issued its 26th annual hospital rankings: Best Hospitals 2015-2016. Thank goodness. Now all of us in the healthcare world can get a good night’s sleep and U.S. News can rake in the cash from hospitals willing to pay the exorbitant fees to promote these rankings. Ain’t life grand? (I think that’s the first time I’ve used “ain’t” in a blog post.)
Let me be clear: Hospital and physician rankings are big business. This is about money. And the inevitably conflicting data that arises from varying surveys with varying methodologies only serves to create confusion for consumers while giving hospitals ammunition they can use to avoid talking about what really matters: How to improve the health of the communities they serve. It all sounds very noble when U.S. News, Consumer Reports, and Healthgrades talk about informing and empowering consumers. But in the end, it’s all about money. And the information they spew does very little to truly empower consumers.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m tired of driving through cities across America where each hospital is running billboards claiming to be a top ranked hospital in some survey. What are consumers supposed to do with that information? Let’s start spending our marketing budgets on sharing information that begins to address some of the health issues in our communities. Let’s communicate true points of differentiation and distinction.
For more, check out this article from Kaiser Health News: Hospital Rankings Are In The Eye Of The Beholder. Here’s an excerpt from that story:
“As ratings multiply, more and more hospitals have something they can boast about. A third of U.S. hospitals—more than 1,600 — last year won at least one distinction from a major rating group or company, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis. In the greater Fort Lauderdale hospital market, 21 of 24 hospitals were singled out as exemplary by at least one rating source. In the Baltimore region, 19 out of 22 hospitals won an award.” (Kaiser Health News, March 18, 2013)