- The Mayo Clinic was named the top hospital in the country for the sixth year in a row as U.S. News & World report published its annual rankings on Tuesday. Rounding out the top five were the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.
- For the first time, the rankings also took a look at some health equity metrics, although they were not factored into the overall scores. U.S. News found that at about 80% of hospitals studied, the community's minority residents were underrepresented in receiving some common procedures.
- The latest list, which already examines specialty areas like knee replacement, took into account seven new measures: heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes, kidney failure, hip fracture and back surgery (spinal fusion).
Hospitals covet the U.S. News mark of approval as a marketing tool, and the publication frequently adjusts its methods to try to help patients — who have the option — decide where they will get their care.
The publication noted that data used to determine the 2021-22 rankings predate the COVID-19 pandemic. The information released Tuesday did, however, include personal accounts from healthcare professionals battling the coronavirus and address issues like the increase in overdose deaths.
The new equity examination is still being developed, and a larger portfolio of measures as well as more detailed methodology will be forthcoming, U.S. News said. The stats published Tuesday gave a preview of the disparities.
"At roughly four out of five hospitals, we found that the community's minority residents were underrepresented among patients receiving services such as joint replacement, cancer surgery and common heart procedures," Ben Harder, the publication's managing editor, said in a statement. "Against this backdrop, however, we found important exceptions — hospitals that provide care to a disproportionate share of their community's minority residents. These metrics are just a beginning; we aim to expand on our measurement of health equity in the future."
The analysis also found that Black patients had a higher proportion of treatments that could have been avoided with more comprehensive preventative care.
Hospital rankings aren't without controversy, with some critics calling them confusing to consumers and contradictory. Competing organizations use different methodologies to determine their outcomes. A 2019 report from the New England Journal of Medicine rated U.S. News on top among its peers, with a B grade.