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Leapfrog Announces Top Hospitals of 2019

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   December 17, 2019

The Leapfrog Group has selected 120 facilities as Top Hospitals in the country based on data from the nonprofit organization's annual hospital survey.

The Leapfrog Group has awarded the 2019 Top Hospital honor to 120 facilities across the country. The list of Top Hospitals can be viewed on the Leapfrog website.

The Top Hospital recognition designates facilities with the highest quality and patient safety ratings as determined from data in the annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey. Quality and patient safety metrics are key elements of value-based care; and patient safety is a top concern in the healthcare industry, with estimates of annual patient deaths due to medical errors as high as 440,000 lives.

Leapfrog, which is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, was founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers of healthcare services.

The 120 Top Hospitals of 2019 were selected in four categories: 10 children's hospitals, 37 general hospitals, 18 rural hospitals, and 55 teaching hospitals. Four states had nine or more Top Hospitals: California, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia.

Last year, 118 hospitals earned the top honor. "We don't set a particular number of Top Hospitals—we pick the hospitals that meet the criteria," Erica Mobley, vice president of administration for Leapfrog, told HealthLeaders last week.

Earning Top Hospital designation

There are several primary criteria to earn the Top Hospital honor, Mobley says.

  • Participation in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey is required to be eligible for consideration. This year, more than 2,000 hospitals completed the survey.
  • Hospital survey results are put through Leapfrog's value-based purchasing program methodology, and each hospital receives a single composite score. The top 10% of hospitals rated through the value-based purchasing program methodology get considered for the Top Hospital designation.
  • Then, several other criteria are applied, Mobley says. "In general, we look at hospitals that report on all of the survey measures that are applicable to them, that abide by our Never Events policy, that fully meet most of the measures in our survey including ones such as computerized physician order entry and ICU physician staffing, and that demonstrate overall excellence as a hospital."

Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) is a key metric in the Top Hospital selection process, she says. "We make sure the top hospitals are entering their medications through a computerized system. … CPOE is important because medication errors are the most common errors that happen in hospitals, and CPOE systems are effective in reducing medication errors."

Hospitals are asked to participate in Leapfrog's CPOE simulation tool, Mobley says. "They put several 'dummy' patients into their CPOE system, and we give them a set of medication orders. We look to see whether the CPOE system is putting out the right alerts. For example, is the system alerting to an adult dosage being prescribed to a pediatric patient?"

Leapfrog Hospital Survey helps drive improvement

Hospital leadership teams can use the Leapfrog Hospital Survey as a quality and patient safety improvement tool, she says.

"They need to look at the performance that they have reported and see the areas where they are doing well and the areas where they can improve. Hospitals can see a variety of different types of benchmarking reports by participating in the survey. For example, they can see how they stack up to facilities in their region or other hospitals in their bed size. They should look at their survey results from this year, identify the areas they need to improve for 2020, and keep working toward those improvements."

Christopher Cheney is the CMO editor at HealthLeaders.


Top Hospitals are selected in four categories: children's hospitals, general hospitals, rural hospitals, and teaching hospitals.

This year, four states had nine or more Top Hospitals: California, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia.

Last year, 118 facilities earned the Top Hospital designation.

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