U.S. News & World Report premiered a new ranking tool, Best Hospitals for Common Care, on Wednesday, May 20. The system rates hospitals' success with five common surgeries and chronic conditions, including hip replacement, knee replacement, heart bypass surgery, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Around 4,000 hospitals are ranked in the "Common Care" system, which derives its ratings from the analysis of about 5 million patient records. Hospitals earn a grade of "high performing," "average" or "below average" on each of the five surgeries and conditions. The ratings are based on statistics like infections, mortality, "preventable complications" and readmissions.
U.S. News states that this new tool is intended to give patients the ability to research the best hospitals for common health issues before seeking treatment, so that they can avoid unnecessary risks that may result from choosing a facility that has less success with a particular surgery or condition.
According to Modern Healthcare, there has been a recent "explosion of healthcare ratings and rankings" of this kind. Such ratings systems have attracted a good deal of controversy, as a hospital which is ranked highly by one source may rate poorly with another. This inconsistency has led experts to question the accuracy of these ratings and the limits of healthcare rankings in general.
Independent rankings and government regulations have led to higher scrutiny of hospitals. Healthcare consulting firms offer a variety of performance assessments, enabling healthcare facilities to improve their services in a variety of areas.