Leapfrog's 'License Fees' for Promoting Hospital Scores Rankle

Cheryl Clark, June 14, 2012

The Leapfrog Group's Hospital Safety Scores released last week have many hospital officials in quite a lather, but not just because half of 2,600 hospitals got an embarrassing C, D, or F letter grade.

The industry is now rumbling because the non-profit group requires any hospital that wants to boast its high score—say on a banner or in a paid media ad—to first pay a "licensing fee" of between $5,000 and $12,500. That's a conflict of interest for both Leapfrog and the hospitals that buy the rights to boast this recognition, some hospital groups are saying.

I had some concerns about conflicts in Leapfrog's licensing fees too, at first. But I checked around and discovered such strategies are quite common. In fact, Leapfrog's marketing strategy is similar to what HealthGrades' does with its "Patient Safety Excellence Awards," which it announces annually for "the safest 5%" of the nation's hospitals, determined by HealthGrades' algorithms.

And it's similar to the marketing campaign that U.S. News & World Report employs for its "Best Hospitals Badge."

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