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U.S. News Announces Changes to 12 Data-Driven Specialty Rankings

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U.S News have revised the methodology behind Best Hospitals to enhance the decision support their rankings and ratings provide to patients. The methodology for the 12 data-driven specialties has been transformed in the 30th edition of Best Hospitals, which will be published on July 30.

In the three decades since U.S. News began evaluating hospitals, they have made ongoing changes to their methodology. In 1993, objective measures of quality debuted in their rankings, complementing data gathered on physicians’ opinions about top referral centers. They began using three years of government data to calculate in-hospital mortality rates in 2000, then replaced that measure with 30-day mortality in 2007—the same year they expanded Best Children’s Hospitals. In subsequent years, they launched Best Regional Hospitals as well as ratings in nine common Procedures & Conditions, which are based exclusively on objective data. In all, they now evaluate hospitals in 35 areas of care, including 16 adult specialties.

U.S. News changed the methodology this year for three reasons: (1) to incorporate additional patient-centered measures reflecting patient satisfaction and how often patients go directly home from the hospital; (2) to enhance the way they account for differences in patient populations and how those differences affect hospitals’ performance; and (3) to address constructive feedback received from doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Because of the changes to the methodology for the 2019-20 Best Hospitals rankings, a hospital’s performance in the new rankings should not be compared with its numerical rank or unranked status from previous years.

Major methodology enhancements in the 2019-20 Best Hospitals specialty rankings include: Inclusion of patient experience data; inclusion of a patient-centered outcome measure; risk adjustment changes; accounting for statistical certainty; removal of AHRQ PSI measures; new definition of volume and narrower inclusion criteria in Orthopedics.

U.S News also made enhancements to the Procedures & Conditions methodology this year, including new process measure – Hip Replacement and Knee Replacement; inclusion of additional outcomes in certain ratings; and the removal of Nurse Magnet recognition.

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