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Latest Release from Lown Institute Hospitals Index Includes Health Equity, Cost Efficiency in Ranking

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Health equity has become a top priority for American hospitals amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and movements for racial justice. Yet relatively few hospitals earn top scores across the Lown Hospitals Index for Social Responsibility, the only ranking to include equity as a major category.

Out of more than 3,000 hospitals, only 75 achieved Honor Roll status by earning “A” grades in equity, value, and outcomes, the three metrics used to determine overall social responsibility. Major teaching hospitals and hospitals in urban locations stand out on this list. One third of all hospitals on the Honor Roll are in either California or Ohio. Hospitals in New Jersey, Maryland, and Tennessee are also well-represented. Though for-profit hospitals perform worse than average on the Index, two for-profit hospitals — both in Northern NJ — top the list.

The Lown Institute, a health care think tank, is the first to publish a national ranking of hospital social responsibility. Now in its second year, the Index includes 54 metrics across the equity, value, and outcomes categories. The primary data source is Medicare fee-for-service claims from 2016-2018 (methodology).

Factored into the ranking this year is a new measure of Cost Efficiency that evaluates how well hospitals achieve low mortality rates at a low cost. Performance varies widely, even among similar-sized hospitals in the same cities. 

In August U.S. News & World Report published health equity metrics alongside its ranking, along with nurse staffing and overuse (AHT, 08/13/21).

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