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U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals List Shifts Methodology

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 17, 2012

Consumers, payers and providers have yet another tool to rank hospital quality with the updated edition of U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals List released Tuesday.

This 23rd edition lists 732 of the nation's 4,800 hospitals, and upsets Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, which has held the number one slot for 21 years, into second place. In its place is Massachusetts General Hospital.

This year, according to magazine spokesman Ben Harder, the magazine's algorithm for determining the score gives less weight to a hospital's reputation. Instead, more weight is given to hospital data that is publicly available and less subjective, such as information collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

"Taking some of the juice out of the high reputational scores gives hospitals with solid clinical data more opportunity to show consumers how well they perform," the magazine explains in an article in this issue. "Reputation will still count as 32.5% of a hospital's overall score, but the modification will have the effect of shrinking the range of reputational scores, reducing the distance between hospitals."

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