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More Rankings, Less Value?

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   August 12, 2014

Many third-party organizations rate hospital quality, but healthcare leaders are finding limited value in the plethora of grades, stars, and rankings.

This article first appeared in the July/August 2014 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Clarification: This story has been updated to address an editing error in which comments by Mark Chassin, MD, president and CEO of The Joint Commission, were misstated.

The crowded field of hospital rankings, ratings, lists, and grades elicits strong opinions from both the organizations attempting to measure and rate quality, and the organizations that are on the receiving end of letter grades, star designations, and appearances on top-10 lists.

Critics of these proliferating hospital evaluations have a laundry list of complaints: The methods aren't transparent enough, consumers don't pay attention, and the grade, rating, or ranking given out doesn't match up with other public reports. But for every critic, there is also a proponent, and pointing out statistical shortcomings is a losing battle, says Mark Chassin, MD, FACP, MPP, MPH, president of CEO of The Joint Commission, an Oakbrook, Illinois–based organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States.

"The constituencies that love this stuff love this stuff," says Chassin, who is a strong supporter of public reporting and an equally strong critic of the methods used by some of the well-known consumer-oriented evaluations, such as U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals list, The Leapfrog Group's Hospital Safety Score, and Healthgrades, a website that measures the performance of physicians, hospitals, and dentists, and issues annual reports identifying the nation's best hospitals in various specialties, and by state.


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Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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